OWOSSO CITY MANAGER NATHAN HENNE offered an overview to city council on Monday, July 30 on the city water and sewer rate structures. In this photo, Henne is elaborating on the three screw pumps that need replacing at the wastewater treatment plant. The corrosion and wear on the screw pumps can easily be seen.
Henne has two options he outlined in the meeting regarding upgrading these facilities. More involved data can be found at www.ci.owosso.mi.us.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The Owosso City Council held a scheduled 5th-Monday educational meeting in city chambers to listen to a presentation on two plans associated with an increase in water and sewer rates. The objective, as presented by city manager Nathan Henne, was to clarify the pros and cons regarding necessary changes to water and sewer rates and outline the two plans he has formed.
Tom Manke of Owosso Township started off the meeting by reiterating his belief that, regarding a potential 13.5 percent proposed increase to maintain the city water distribution system and sewer plant, city residents simply do not have the extra funds at this time. Manke also shared that by living outside the city, he is thankful to have well water. Other individuals expressed similar concerns during the council meeting, sharing that the average area income has “flatlined” or become “stagnant,” leaving people/families in extremely tight economic conditions.
During his presentation, Henne carefully explained the different options. The first option, inclusive of the 13.5 percent rate increase “to maintain system integrity and to make needed improvements to water distribution system and sewer plant,” would see the increase applied to water rates, sewer rates, sprinkling meters, flat-rate sewer customers, fire protection lines, retail township customers and Corunna customers, where water is purchases wholesale. It should be noted that services charged to townships and to Corunna are still based on a contract(s) dating clear back to the 1980s and have never been updated. Obviously, there have been considerable changes, particularly in the area of industry, since the 1980s.
The city of Owosso has provided Henne’s presentation to the general public at www.ci.owosso.mi.us, for those seeking more in-depth detail. Henne has done a notable amount of research and data collection in organizing the plans he presented to council.
Option one, with the 13.5 percent rate increase, would see water distribution including 9,749 feet of new water mains at almost $1.3 million, but would also ultimately see less road damage to ongoing water main issues such as the one located near Hanover and Olmstead Streets.
Option two would see a combined water/sewer rate increase of 8.6 percent, with residential water increased to 9.2 percent and an overall sewer increase of 7.9 percent in the upcoming year. That rate would fluctuate slightly over time, however, ultimately only 7,103 feet of new water mains would be addressed, which could result in furthering street repair issues, etc.
As it stands currently, the water treatment plant is functioning on one backwash pump with no redundancy built into the system. The potential water treatment plant projects are all identified in Henne’s plan and are also available at www.ci.owosso.mi.us. As well as the need for a second backwash pump, electronics need to be shifted away from areas that flood and the System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software, dating from 2004, needs upgrading.
Likewise, the wastewater treatment plant is in need of a large number of repairs as outlined in Henne’s presentation. The structure dates back to 1935 and has been retrofitted in a number of non-optimal ways over the decades due to retro-budget constraints, now placing the city in a position where the plant must be updated. Three screw pumps need replacing, sludge thickener drive/equipment needs work, a backup generator is needed and more.
The 5th-Monday meeting on July 30 was intended to be informative for both council members, who have recently visited water/sewer facilities to formulate valid assessments, and also the attending public. The next meeting is planned for Monday, Aug. 6.