City interested in running Marcellus treatment plantPublished 8:48am Wednesday, March 10, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Dowagiac wants to operate the new Lakes Area Sewer Authority wastewater treatment plant near Marcellus.
Lakes Area Sewer Authority, or LASA, formed to provide sewer services to Gravel Lake in Van Buren County and Saddlebag Lake, Finch Lake and Big Fish Lake in Cass County.
It will have a treatment system plus a collection system consisting of seven lift stations and 67,000 feet of sewer main.
The plant and collection system are under construction with an anticipated July 15 plant start-up.
Customers will be required to connect within three to four months of the plant beginning operation.
LASA is requesting proposals for staffing of the plant and collection system with qualified operators who will operate the system to comply with NPDES permits.
The City of Dowagiac currently does this and has done it well for years, City Manager Kevin Anderson advised City Council Monday night.
“Clearly, this will be competitive. We would go out a couple of times a week, like we do with Indian Lake, look at the lift stations and make sure they’re operating properly. From time to time, we would make a repair that needs to be made or advise them to contract out.”
“In fact, you are running the facility,” Mayor Donald Lyons said.
“We’re working through the logistics of how we would do that” if a successful proposal is submitted, Anderson answered. “It’s designed by Wightman and is very similar in operation to what we have.”
“We are experiencing contracting with other sewer districts such as SLAUA (Sister Lakes). The request for proposals is very similar to the SLAUA arrangement with the exception of maintaining a wastewater treatment plant. However, we have certified individuals on staff with that knowledge,” Anderson said.
Anderson, Department of Public Services Director and City Engineer Christopher Bolt, Assistant City Manager Rose Scherr and Finance Director Dave Pilot are working on the staffing and cost proposal to meet the March 17 submittal due date.
LASA indicated it will be conducting interviews and negotiating a contract in March and April with the intent of beginning a contract effective April 26.
Anderson said the City of Dowagiac has a long history of intergovernmental cooperation regarding sewer treatment and maintenance of sewer lines.
The city currently contracts with SLAUA for maintenance of its lift stations and treatment of wastewater.
Dowagiac also contracts with Cassopolis to treat its wastewater.
Cassopolis then contracts with surrounding areas, so the city treats sewerage from as far away as Donnell Lake near Vandalia at the wastewater treatment plant on M-62 West.
LASA seeks to contract out its wastewater treatment plant operations, as well as the lift station grinder pump and sewer line maintenance.
The city recognizes that successful intergovernmental agreements must be financially prudent to be effective over the long term.
There appears to be an opportunity to develop a financially prudent relationship with LASA, Anderson said.
March 8 City Council accepted his recommendation to submit a proposal to LASA to provide wastewater collection and treatment services.
Third Ward Councilman Dr. Charles Burling moved for adoption, supported by Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin.
“I think this is an excellent opportunity to have another intergovernmental effort,” Mayor Lyons said.
“If you open the door in this way,” Laylin said, “on down the road it might open a window for a joint venture in some other avenue.”
Dowagiac won the most recent award for intergovernmental cooperation named for late mayor Graham Woodhouse with its Russom Park collaboration with Silver Creek Township.