2018-03-08 / News

Council votes to approve DWRF Segment five construction contract

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — At a recent city council meeting, the city council voted to approve and authorize the mayor and clerk to sign a resolution to award the Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWFR) segment five construction contract to Salenbien Trucking and Excavating Inc for a cost not to exceed $2,430,548.30.

The construction project will be part of a $21.5 million five-phase improvement project to replace the water lines on the south end of Burton, with $3 million principal forgiveness from the state, similar to a grant. The lifespan of the water lines will be 50 years or more.

Councilman Vaughn Smith said because of the project water customers would have more pressure in their water, which is useful in fire suppression. Smith said residents would be less likely to be without water due to the city having to repair the water main breaks and the water, therefore, having to be turned off. In addition, the city will not have to pay to repair the water main breaks.

Smith asked if the city did not do the fifth phase what the ramifications would be for the city.

“One, we committed early on,” said Charles Abbey, Deputy Department of Public Works (DPW) director.

“You lose some of your principal forgiveness in the whole thing,” Abbey added. “That’s the way it was explained to us, councilman: that we get it based on our commitment to fix the infrastructure.”

Abbey said the city did the project in phases to ease the burden to the water customers because that’s where the fees were coming from. A rate study recently approved by council will determine how much water customers should pay. Abbey said originally the project was going to be done in one phase, and he considered it wise the council said to do it in phases, spreading the cost over five years.

“There are a lot of things I could go on about,” he said. “But, just recently, this winter, we’ve already had water main breaks.”

He said the water main breaks occurred in phase five of the project, and there were no water main breaks in phase one, two, three or four.

“The cost just to keep that system a float is just astronomical, but, it’s not that” he said “Our pressure in our water towers, in our elevated tower, has been reduced because it just blows the mains up. We can’t even get that under full capacity and pressure because it’s blowing too many water mains.”

Smith confirmed the city would be fined by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if they didn’t complete the project, then said he just wanted council to be aware of the ramifications. He said he would be supporting signing the resolution to award the contract for the work.

“I don’t enjoy what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’ve already approved the rate study for the water and sewer. This is one of those things that’s going to maintain your home. You’ve got to put some money into it.”

Robert Slattery, DPW director, said some water pipes on the south end of Burton were 80-90 years old, which would explain the many water main breaks that occurred over the years.

“Before we started this project, we were getting dozens of water main breaks every year,” Slattery said.

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