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Posted: 07/02/14

Bruce Twp approves of
SRF loan for sewer fixes

Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce Township is seeking a loan to make much-needed repairs to its sewer systems.
       The Board of Trustees voted 4-0 at a special meeting held June 25 to seek out a State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan to pay for $300,000 in sewer maintenance and repairs. Trustee Paul Okoniewski was not present at the meeting.
       The decision stems from a presentation held two weeks ago by Giffels Webster, the township's engineering consultants. The township received a $60,000 S2 grant in 2012 to be used for an analysis of the township's three pump stations and create a plan for improving them.
       "They're all old," said Supervisor Richard Cory on June 25. "They need to be upgraded."
       One of the requirements for an S2 grant is to apply for a loan to address issues identified by the analysis. The loan also required a public hearing.
       The three pump stations help transfer waste to Romeo's wastewater treatment plant. Keith Mayer, a partner at Giffels Webster, suggested the Chase Farms pump station receive security fencing, an access gate, upgrading the pumps to more energy-efficient units and installing a monitoring program known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).
       Mayer said the new monitoring system will help reduce the labor required to address problems.
       "This will send a signal to the central area so people have an indication of what is going on," he said.
       The Twin Brooks pump station would receive similar updates plus cabinets for the control systems and separating electrical lines shared by homeowners in the area.
       "We want to put in two separate meters so it's very clear what's being used privately versus what's being used for the pump station," he said.
       The 33 Mile Road pump station requires similar upgrades to the previous stations, but also requires a back-up generator to keep it running when outages occur. Mayer said the projects wouldn't add any capacity to the sewer system.
       "In other words, it isn't intended to stimulate development in the area," he said. "These kinds of projects are more for maintenance and operations and to fix a problem rather than increasing capacity."
       The Chase Farms upgrades would cost $93,000, the Twin Brooks upgrades at $80,000. The 33 Mile Road station would cost $127,000, totaling $300,000.
       Giffels Webster recommended making all suggested repairs, and would submit the plan prior to July 1. Mayer said the repairs would be an efficient use of funds and would improve water quality.
       "There will be a savings in energy consumption and hopefully that money could be directed back into the wastewater collection system in the future to address other issues that may be popping up," he said.
       The SRF loan would be 2.5 to 3 percent interest for 20 years, working out to $1,590 to $1,664 a month for the township. The money will be allocated in October when the plan is expected to begin.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann said she doesn't anticipate rates would automatically rise with the loan, especially since it would be difficult to calculate such a small increase on 400 customers.
       "You're talking . . . $0.40 a month for each one, so I don't think that we would do that," she said on June 18.
       Mayer presented alternatives for the board to consider. One was to keep everything status quo, but Mayer said by doing so the township would continue paying high energy and maintenance bills.
       One alternative was to take out all mechanical, electrical and control components and replace all of them due to age. Mayer said the costs would probably reach the $1 million mark.
       Mayer said disruption during any construction would be minimal since most of the work is done inside and around the stations themselves.

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