Fourth township of five approves NKSA maintenance contract In a special meeting held 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25, the Alpine Township Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve a contract to allow staff at the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA) to provide service and maintenance for the sewer system within the township. Board members in attendance were Supervisor Alex Arends, Clerk Jean Wahlfield, Treasurer Jim Townsend and trustees Ron Cordes, Jim May, Ted Wallace, and Bill Schweitzer. The motion to approve the contract was made by Schweitzer with support of Wallace to approve the Collection System Service agreement for the sewage disposal system. Arends commented on correspondence received from Mike Oezer (Progressive Engineering), the Alpine Township engineer, regarding competitive bids from Operations and Maintenance. In discussions with Bowne Township, he was quoted 60 to 80 dollars an hour for typical operations and maintenance. Township Attorney Jeff Sluggett (Bloom, Sluggett, Morgan) raised questions in earlier correspondence, and NKSA Attorney Jim Scales addressed them. Discussion was centered about costs and, based on the numbers available, NKSA will have a lower hourly rate than Bowne. Studies to date show the rate will also be lower than the current DPW rates and will be cheaper than a private contractor rate. The board believed that at this time the logical thing to do was sign the agreement. NKSA Director Larry Campbell provided a draft Work Plan to Arends last week. The Work Plan is due by August 1, 2012. “There is a changing philosophy taking place with the transition from DPW to NKSA. The members will each work with their own budgets; the input from Alpine will determine scheduled cleaning and maintenance,” Campbell said. The changes are different from Kent County DPW based on past history. In comparing the “old” way to the “new” way, Alpine can determine its needs. Campbell commented that Alpine has 42 miles of sewer lines. The goal of the Work Plan is to prevent backups, reduce I/I (inflow and infiltration), introduce a five-year cleaning cycle, and continue with routine maintenance. Once the Board adopts the August 1, 2012 Work Plan, then NKSA has until October 1 to implement the plan. (DPW turns the system over to NKSA on October 1, 2012.) The final work […]
North Kent Sewer Authority
Only clerk votes no on cost-sharing plan by BETH ALTENA Larry Campbell, director of the PARCCside Wastewater Treatment plant, estimates that Plainfield Township’s portion of the cost of maintaining sewer structure with plant staff will be roughly $450,000 annually. He compared his estimate to the township’s cost when Kent County Department of Public Works held the contract—a job they are no longer willing to do. Campbell said in 2009 the bill for the township was over a million dollars. In 2010 it was $824,000; in 2011 the county charged Plainfield $829,000 and to date this year the bill is at $569,000. He spoke before the Plainfield Township Board Monday, July 16, prior to the board’s vote on whether to approve a cost-sharing agreement with the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA). There are many variables that could affect the cost to Plainfield Township for their portion of infrastructure (pipes, lift stations, cleaning, joint and shared portions) of the sewer collection system that routes wastewater to the PARCCside plant on Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids. The NKSA is a joint entity formed by five member communities—the City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. The maintenance on the sewer collection lines has been maintained by Kent County Department of Public Works, which had a contract that is now expired and that the county has been unwilling to reenter. According to Gary Seger, utility services superintendent for the county, who spoke before the board at the last regular meeting, Kent County is dissolving his department and letting go his staff of nine people. One of his former employees has already been hired by NKSA and Seger himself will be joining the staff at PARCCside when his job with the county ends. The NKSA will begin maintaining the sewer lines October 1 of this year. Member communities have been provided a cost-sharing agreement to either approve or decline. Prior to the July 16 vote by Plainfield, Cannon Township and the City of Rockford had already unanimously approved the agreement, which they believe will cut costs considerably compared to the county doing the work. “When I started looking at my numbers, what I came up with is $450,000,” said Campbell to the board. Campbell said variables […]
City joins Cannon Township in agreement that is expected to save money, improve services by BETH ALTENA “This does not sound like an exciting item, but it is very exciting,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. Young was describing a proposal before the board for cost-sharing different elements of the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA), including maintenance of components such as pipes and lift stations and routine or emergency repairs. “A lot of people think we founded the NKSA in order to build the treatment plant. [Building the plant] was an exciting opportunity along the way and we took it, but that wasn’t why we formed the Authority,” he said Monday, July 9, during the regular monthly city council meeting. Young told the board the reason the NKSA was formed a decade ago was in response to what members considered less-than-adequate care of sewer infrastructure done by the County. “This is a big deal for us. It’s been a long time coming,” Young told council. “I am a firm believer in you can do a better job if you do it yourself. I highly recommend we approve this contract.” The board unanimously approved the 10-year agreement with a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Brien Dews and a second by Councilwoman Mary Eadie, who has served on the council for 35 years. Members of the NKSA include the City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. Together the member communities formed the alliance in 1997 and together built a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue in Plainfield Township, which began operations in 2008. Included in the agreement are provisions for jointly held elements of the NKSA infrastructure, including pipelines used by all members, and individually owned parts, such as pipelines and lifts which are within township boundaries and used by each township. Staff at the PARCCside Wastewater Treatment plant have been working closely with Kent County Department of Public Works to seamlessly transfer operations from the County to NKSA. NKSA staff of four has increased by one former County worker familiar with the job and will increase by two more after hiring Gary Seger, utility services superintendent, and one additional staff member to perform the new duties.
Townships consider cost agreements for sewer infrastructure by BETH ALTENA “What you see happening in 2012 is what we anticipated in 1997 and perhaps earlier.” During Plainfield Township’s Monday, July 2 board meeting, Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan discussed a proposed agreement for the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA) management and staff replace the Kent County DPW in providing management and operational services for the North Kent Sewage Disposal System starting October 1 of this year. The board considered aspects of an agreement which will divide up how members of the NKSA will maintain the infrastructure—pipes, motors, lift stations, etc.—which takes wastewater from residential homes and businesses in each community to the wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue. The City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield make up the NKSA. Of the five communities that have been allied in the creation of NKSA, two, Courtland Township and the City of Rockford, would continue maintaining their individual collection systems under the terms of the agreement. Rockford has maintained its own sewer structure with their Department of Public Works for decades. Courtland Township a year ago hired a private company to maintain the sewer lines and take care of any failures of the system as they arise. However, both Rockford and Courtland Township will participate in the agreement as NKSA partners and co-owners of those portions of the North Kent system used by more than one community. An example of this is a large sewer main that runs down Belding Road, carrying wastewater from Courtland and Cannon townships. Homan refers to the document as an addition to the original agreement creating the NKSA. An agreement with Kent County for maintenance of the sewer lines expired in 2008, and was not renewed, but the county agreed to a five-year extension to give communities time to decide how and who would be responsible for the operation of the system in the future. NKSA’s solution is to do it themselves. With a competent staff of six now managing and operating NKSA’s PARCC Side Clean Water Plant and the addition of two former county employees plus one more person, members of NKSA believe by taking the job into their own hands they will maintain better control […]
Sewer absorbing topic by STEVE GRIMM You would be surprised how fascinating sewer issues can be. I found this out since becoming Cannon Township supervisor in January 2011. As part of the North Kent Sewer Authority, Cannon’s sewer customers’ waste is sent to the treatment facility on Coit Avenue in Plainfield Township. We share the system with Alpine, Plainfield, Courtland and the City of Rockford. What is really fascinating is the infrastructure involved in that utility. Most people don’t think of their sewer, nor should they. If it flushes and doesn’t come back into the house, all is good. An analysis of the mechanical infrastructure exposes a surprising complexity of the collection and treatment system involved. Pipes, connections, lift stations and the treatment facility itself all work together to take waste and convert it to water clean enough to drink. By the time the process is complete, the treated water that is put into the Grand River is cleaner than the river itself. Along with this complexity is the fact that the entire system has a limited life span. Once a pipe is put into the ground, it starts to degrade, eventually leading, over many years, to expensive replacement. Cannon Township is involved right now in developing an intelligent operation and maintenance plan that will first identify and categorize the maintenance needed and the costs involved. One of the techniques employed to accomplish this is to televise all the pipes that carry sewer. You would be surprised at how much fun it is to spend a morning traveling through a sewer pipe. By doing so, Cannon will very soon develop and implement a very aggressive plan of action that will proactively repair and maintain the entire system so that catastrophic failure caused by age of the system and lack of attention will be minimized. By implementing and sticking to this plan, the long-term future of our sewer system will be ensured. Now, what can be more fascinating than that?