News & Resources


Foundations of Stewardship – Au Sable Begins Construction of New Septic System

Nov 22, 2017

Dirt, pipes, and holes in the ground. To most people, not the most inspiring vision of creation care. Yet it is often those things that, as the Apostle, Paul would say, “seem less honorable” that can be the most important in our care of the earth. At Au Sable, that is what we are learning as we construct a new septic system for our faculty housing, a collection of cottages known as ‘The Pines’ on Big Twin Lake within a mile of the Au Sable Campus. The septic system of the cottages is outdated and not up to current sanitation codes. Each cottage at The Pines has an independent septic system, a failure in any one of which could seriously pollute both the surface waters of Big Twin Lake and the groundwater beneath. The risk is increased each year, not only from age and deterioration of the system itself, but because, as the great trees at The Pines keep on growing taller above, so their roots keep growing larger and longer below. If any root penetrates or disrupts one of the individual septic fields, failure and contamination could result.

Director of Support Services, Eric Bond, has persevered through months and months of state agency approvals, sanitation plan development, and searches for the right contractor to do the work the right way. His efforts are coming to fruition. After finally receiving an approved plan from the engineers of the Michigan Department of Health in July, Eric could begin soliciting bids to construct the new system. That effort also has taken stamina and persistence, and now, C & K Excavators will begin the construction and installation of a new, integrated septic system that will serve all of the cottages and provide maximum protection to the lake and groundwater. As Eric explained, “In the early years of construction people didn’t really seem to care about how they built a septic system. I heard a story of one place that used an old car as a septic tank. Our systems are not that bad, but they are old, and this upgrade is very exciting for us.”

“What Eric is accomplishing here is really important,” noted Au Sable’s Executive Director, Dr. Fred Van Dyke. “The current system is an environmental time bomb. Sooner or later, it will almost certainly fail. That failure would not only do a lot of harm to God’s creatures, but in the eyes of Au Sable’s human neighbors around Big Twin, it would be a terrible blow to the Institute’s integrity and credibility as a community of creation care. We don’t just want to take care of the faculty at The Pines with this renovation. We want to take care of all our neighbors, the ones in lakefront homes and the ones that swim in the water. It’s time we got this done.”

For faculty and their families at The Pines, benefits will be apparent and direct. As Eric explained “with the septic system being brought up to current code, yes we are protecting our water sources from potential pollutants, but now guests at the Pines should not have to worry about experiencing problems with the system that they have in the past. And hopefully soon, now that we are up to code, the Pines will gradually be able to begin renovations, to improve the overall housing.”

It’s easy to overlook what’s under our feet, but we really should pay very careful attention to it. At Au Sable, protecting God’s creation is going to start from the ground up this year, especially at The Pines.