City of Dowagiac, Penn Township renew water system agreement

DOWAGIAC — The city of Dowagiac and Penn Township renewed their longstanding agreement to deliver quality water to the community Monday evening.

The Dowagiac City Council authorized a 10-year agreement with the Cass County Board of Public Works to continue to operate the water systems in the Penn Township, Diamond Lake and Donnell Lake areas through June 2031.

According to a memo from City Manager Kevin Anderson to the council, the contract renewal calls for the city to continue the operation and management of the water systems and stipulates that the city retains 85 percent of all utility bills and remits 15 percent to the BPW for capital improvements.

“The 85 percent goes to the city to make sure good quality water is there, everything is serviced appropriately, customers are billed and all of the things that go with it,” Anderson said. “The other 15 percent goes into a fund for capital improvements. So, if fire hydrants need to be repaired or replaced, if there’s major work that needs to be done on a water tower, there’s money available for them.”

In addition, the agreement states that the BPW is responsible for all capital expenditures exceeding $1,000. Utility rates can be adjusted based on the mutual agreement of the city and the BPW.

The agreement will last until June 16, 2031, with options to renew.

Anderson indicated that the Penn Township water system has expanded to include the Diamond Lake and Donnell Lake areas. The financing of the project has been done through the BPW, which is responsible for entering into agreements with a responsible water operator.

In the past the agreements have been for five years, but a 10-year renewal is being proposed. There is an “out clause” in the agreement with one year’s notice should either party find the agreement not serving either party to its respective satisfaction.

“We think it’s been a really good working model and good example of how intergovernmental places can work together,” Anderson said. “They certainly don’t have a system that’s large enough to support the cruise necessary to maintain it. We are able to provide that service to them, and they’re wanting to continue. We’ve done a really good job with them and it’s been a relationship that’s been good for all involved.”

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