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E-M:/ Manistee turns down Waste Water expansion

Voters in Manistee yesterday went to the polls and resoundingly turned down a multi-million dollar plan to expand to the Waster Water treatment facility by a margin of around 4-1.  City officials were asking voters to approve a $9 million expansion. Currently the plant can treat up to one million gallons of water a day, and the expansion would have doubled that capacity. $2 million for the expansion would have come from Federal grants, with Manistee residents paying for the rest. The expansion would have added an approximately additional $12 a month, collectively costing city residents and additional 5 million dollars per year for 30 years---and the 7th highest Water and Sewer rates in the state.
Many opponents of the plan saw the proposed expansion plan as a direct tie-in to the proposed coal-fueled power plant proposed by the Tondu Corporation of Houston, Texas. Tondu would have made a one-time payment of $4 million for the plant's expansion and use.
Without the expansion of the plant, the Tondu Corporation is faced with the serious dilemma of not having sufficient capacity at the Treatment Plant to properly operate the power plant, should it be built.
Late last month the Manistee City Planning Commission made a request to extend their April 1, 2004, deadline concerning their decision whether or not to accept a Special Use Permit applied for by the Tondu Corporation to build the 425-mega-watt coal-fired plant on the shores of Manistee Lake, stating that they had too many serious questions and concerns about the project to make an informed decision on whether or not to approve the SUP.  One Commissioner made the request clear, explaining that if the Tondu Corporation wouldn't accept the request for an extended deadline, that he would be glad to make the decision now (implying that he would vote to turn down the application).  Other Commissioners agreed.
~Monica Evans
Traverse Group of the Sierra Club
"Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life."  ~Dalai Lama