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Spirit Lake may lift building moratorium

Staff Writer | August 8, 2020 1:00 AM

Spirit Lake’s moratorium on building permits and sewer hookups is over, for now.

In response to Spirit Lake’s rising sewage problem, the city crafted a wastewater pond as a land-based wastewater facility. After treatment in the pond, effluent is irrigated to regional agricultural fields and forest crops.

According to Spirit Lake city clerk Michelle Wharton, at the time of the pond’s initial construction, the city’s sewage was more than available capacity. The pond, a temporary relief for the city’s sewage dilemma, can hold the wastewater from 200 building sites.

Because of the cap on sewage hookups, Spirit Lake adopted a building moratorium in 2017. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, council members will vote on an ordinance to formally close the project and begin to finance a $1.8 million wastewater revenue bond.

Despite the new pond, Spirit Lake’s sewage situation isn’t permanently fixed.

Wharton said 200 building permits will be approved by city administration before another moratorium will be needed. As of Friday morning, only 138 remained, according to city clerk records. Once the 200 permits are gone, the city will have to create a new plan to control the waste.

In addition to the ordinance, the city of Spirit Lake is in the midst of budget deliberations. City council will hold budget workshops Wednesday and Thursday to prepare the tentative budget later this month.