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Posted: 10/23/13

Repairs needed for
village iron removal plant

Observer Staff Writer
      Village officials will look at solving a $160,000 problem that, if unaddressed, could cost additional dollars on top of unfiltered water for residents.
       At its Oct. 21 meeting, the Village Board of Trustees began discussions on how to fund required maintenance for its iron removal plant by tossing out ideas such as 2-year loans and water rate increases. The board will address the issue further at its Nov. 19 meeting.
       Department of Public Works Supervisor Tim Metz said the iron removal plant needs new media filtration. By not replacing it, he said the village is losing money since it is pumping an average 300,000 to 400,000 gallons of water every other day. He said the village normally runs backwash procedures twice a week for up to 900,000 gallons of water a day.
       "It takes about 40,000 gallons of water to do a backwash, so we're dumping 40,000 gallons of water down the drain," he said. "That is treated water."
       Metz said project will cost $160,000 to remove the old media, install the new media and paint the filters. He said the plant could get by, but it might come to a point where the village has to do a backwash every day or stop it entirely.
       "I doubt we would have to, but there is always a possibility that we have to bypass the iron removal plant and we go back to the `nice' water we had the past couple of weeks," he said.
       Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the village had to bypass the iron removal plant for a month recently.
       Iron causes a reddish discoloring and metallic taste in water, and can cause health issues if abnormal levels are consumed.
       McLaughlin said the water fund has been mostly depleted due to the inspection and re-painting of the water tower, so other sources could be required. She suggested the village look at the water rates, though when last discussed the board wanted to keep the minimum prices at $30 a quarter.
       "If we keep the minimum the same and you have fixed income people or senior citizens that don't even use 10,000 [gallons] they won't be affected by it if we just raise the rates," she said after the meeting.
       Trustee Bob Hart said the village could place a line item onto water bills to pay for the maintenance. The item would be removed once the project is completed and could prevent raising the rates.
       "I think people would understand that," he said.
       Trustee Ron Rossell said the village could look into a one- or two-year loan to pay for the necessary work and spread the loan amount onto the bills. The board estimated if the cost were spread out over the roughly 1,600 bills sent out it would be about $100, though this is a speculative number.
       "You still may have to get a loan, maybe for two years, and you put that $100 over eight different bills for two years, that is enough to pay for the loan and the interest and you'd be done with it," Rossell said.
       McLaughlin agreed this could be done, but added it didn't address the cost increases associated with chemical usage to operate the system. She said she hopes to have some solid numbers ready for the board at its next meeting.
       McLaughlin said there may be an adjustment to water rates due to changes from Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, but this would only affect industrial customers.

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