City Hall Closing Monday December 21, 2015
I’m closing City Hall Monday afternoon on December 21 so ALL city employees can meet for lunch, have a bit of entertainment, and just have some fun as a way to thank them for a job well done this year. It is also to continually reinforce the concept of “team” which can be challenging with city employees spread across the city on a daily basis. For the most part, we have an outstanding team of people who care, have significant skill levels, and enjoy what they do here at the city. Obviously there will be a few on-call if there is a “blizzard” or other act of nature. Please contact me if you have questions or comments.
Water Project Phase I
On Monday, December 7, we had another joint meeting with Allendale and its engineers, Ottawa County (serving as Polkton Township representative), Prein&Newhof, and city staff to discuss Phase I of the proposed water system upgrade, again. The agenda was devoted to receive more detail on an option proposed by Allendale’s engineers. For our new council members, the city proposed a plan to tie our water system into Allendale in case of an emergency if the M-45 water transmission main were to go down. The “win” for Allendale was the location of the emergency connection: it eliminated a dead end in one of their lines, which is not an ideal situation due to maintenance cost and water quality. This plan was on a positive path until a secondary plan was revealed.
Unfortunately, but not uncommon with projects of this size, complexity has crept into the project for a number of reasons. One of the driving reasons for the complexity is the city’s desire to resolve a host of challenges both short term and long term before the first shovel of dirt is thrown. Because of projected costs, financing challenges, and other reasons, I have instructed Prein&Newhof to cost out a basic design that significantly increases the amount of water to the city which was a secondary goal of the project. Prein&Newhof and the city are also discussing a method to examine the existing 16” transmission water main under the river to test its wall integrity. Essentially we’re testing the hypothesis that a second river crossing is really a necessity, which was the primary goal of the project in the first place. There is a company that can perform such an evaluation and Prein&Newhof is researching cost, timeline, and other details to the process. When the Utility Advisory Committee meets one of the agenda items is to discuss this very item.
WWTP Project Phase II
Uncertainty still exists on a long-term WWTP solution for incremental growth of the city’s industrial waste. Part of the uncertainty is related to what amount, if any, of the Muskegon WWTP can be a viable option for CDF and Coopersville. I’m meeting with CDF and Select Services tomorrow to review and discuss a revised proposal from the Muskegon representatives. After this meeting, another meeting with Muskegon and all interested stakeholders will convene to discuss possible next steps.
City staff is still pursuing a secondary option that could provide significant capacity to our WWTP both short and long term. One option has prompted two visits to the Grandville WWTP to observe and learn more about their anaerobic digester process. This alternative design has the potential to produce energy from waste which could, in theory, dramatically reduce our energy costs operating the WWTP, which are significant. Due to all of the above, it would be an appropriate time to schedule the Utility Advisory Committee to meet and discuss the overall status of this project and viable options available to us.
New WWTP Employee
The 2015-2016 Budget had provisions to hire an additional employee to the Water and Waste Water Department. This has been need for several years due to the increased requirements on lab work, maintenance, and repair in both areas. We were very fortunate to find an individual, Keith Schaffer, who already has a certain level of skill and certifications in the water and waste water fields. Why were we fortunate? We were fortunate because there is a shortage of trained individuals in the waste water profession, plus he lives relatively close to the city which is a benefit when he’s on call. Welcome Keith, glad to have you on our team!