Council approves additional construction at sewage plant

The city is investing some additional dollars into its ongoing efforts to modernize the operations of Dowagiac’s wastewater treatment plant.

The members of the Dowagiac City Council voted to approve some additional work to the clear well at the local sewage treatment facility during their meeting Monday night at city hall. Contractors will replace the four aging valves inside the well in conjunction with other construction projects occurring at the facility, in the amount of $50,500.

The decision to replace the valves came at the recommendation of contractor L.D. Docsa and engineering firm Fleis & VandenBrink, both of which are working with the city with the wastewater treatment plant improvement project, said City Manager Kevin Anderson.

“As you get going through a construction projection like this, you’re always going to find something,” Anderson said. “When we drained this [well] down we found out these valves were rather old.”

Crews found that the valves were not working, having suffered damage from rust as well as having inoperable actuators, according to a memo distributed to council by Department of Public Services Director James Bradford. The valves have been in place since the plant was built in the 1970s, and have outlived their usual life, the memo stated.

According to Bradford, the work to replace the clear well valves will involve demolishing the floor space of the clear well, installing floor access hatch with safety grating, demolishing the existing four clear well valves and installing the new valves and valve operator extensions.

While not a planned part of the improvement project, Anderson recommended that council approve the replacement work now, as it would be cheaper to have the work performed with an empty well, he said.

“We decided to do this now while it’s drained rather than have to do it at another time over the next five to 10 years,” Anderson said.

Work at the wastewater plant has been progressing well since it began last fall, Anderson said. The project, intended to replace aging equipment at the facility, is estimated to cost around $2 million, which will be funded in part through $600,000 worth of grant money.

The valve replacement work is not covered under these grant funds, meaning there will not be any recordkeeping issues with the project, Bradford said.

Other business passed Monday included:

• Renewal of an agreement with the Cass County Board of Public Works for city crews to maintain the operation of the Penn Township/Donnell Lake/Diamond Lake water system.

• Renewal of an agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation for operational grant money for the city’s Dial-a-Ride program.

• Authorization of special assessments on city properties with past due city utility bills and properties that do not comply with noxious weeds or deteriorated property ordinaces.

• Passage of a resolution to host a public hearing on the fiscal year 2016-2017 city budget on Monday, May 23.

• Payment of bills and payroll in the amount of $405,701.

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