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April 25, 2019

dean hall/lakeland times

Torch Lake campground, which currently offers 20 camping sites, is set to expand to 40 sites by 2021.
dean hall/lakeland times

Torch Lake campground, which currently offers 20 camping sites, is set to expand to 40 sites by 2021.
4/6/2019 7:30:00 AM
Planning continues on Torch Lake campground expansion
Jacob Friede
Of The Lakeland Times

The Vilas County Forestry, Recreation, and Land committee received some good news at its meeting Tuesday concerning the future of the sewage system at Torch Lake Campground.

According to Dave Sandenwasser, assistant zoning administrator for the Vilas County Department of Zoning and Planning, an additional septic tank at the campground will not be needed for the planned expansion at the campground.

"The good news is that we don't have to add any new capacity out there. We have enough capacity for everything that is planned," Sandenwasseer said. "As it comes to pass, this committee had the foresight to install the septic that's large enough for both the current phase that's already been constructed and the next proposed phase three."

Twenty additional sites are planned to be developed at Torch Lake by 2021 as part of phase three of the campground's development. There are currently 20 available sites at Torch Lake and one host site.

The committee now has options as to how they want to direct the campground's sewage from the future sites into the holding tank. Sandenwasser presented a variety of possible configurations of both pump lines, which move waste with the power of an electric pump in the ground, and gravity lines.

"There are really a lot of ways that we can go about doing this and it's really dependent on how creative you want to get and how creative your plumbers and engineers want to get. And how much money you intend to spend," Sandenwasser said.

But in order to know how much money to spend on the project, the committee first needs a design to shop around. Therefore, they passed a motion to get Ayres Associates, the engineering firm out of Madison who did the original architectural plans for the expansion, to give an estimate on how much it would cost to revise those plans to include a sewage system.

"We need to take a realistic look and see how much money it's going to cost and get some facts and some numbers to work with, committee member Art Kunde said. "I see we're growing as far as reservations at the campground on a daily basis. We've already surpassed what we did in all of 2018 as far as revenue and booking. Reservations are coming in at one or two a day right now. Which is pretty good."

Kunde said the campground is already booked for 13 percent of its yearly occupancy and the camping season has not even begun.

To ensure a prospective design adequately accommodates the needs of future visitors to the park, and to determine the demand for full service sites, the committee also approved surveying campers who make reservations this season as to how they plan to use the park and how long they will stay.

"We need to get their feedback so we have an idea of how many full service sites we need to have in this next phase," Vilas County recreation director Dale Mayo said.

So far, Kunde noted, reservations have been made primarily by weekend campers. However, in the future, if the campground wants to bring in RV owners for long stays, he said, Torch Lake will need to offer full-service sewage system hook-ups.

Jacob Friede may be reached at or

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