Monday, March 23, 2009

Chesaning - Sewage overflow into Shiawassee

PUBLISHED: Sunday, March 22, 2009
Tri-County Citizen, a Lapeer Group Weekly Publication-

CHESANING - "Realistically to go through this whole town --it's NOT possible to get it done," Councilman Don Swartzmiller told the Chesaning Village Council during their March 17 meeting. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had responded to Swartzmiller and Rowe Engineer Lou Fleury's request for an extension; the village needed more time to complete the project.

Knowing the need to separate the storm sewer from the sanitary sewer to prevent sewage overflow in the Shiawassee River, village officials began working on separating properties throughout the village. When they started, they were working without any push from the DEQ. Now the DEQ demands that the separation be complete by December of 2010.

"It was our idea to separate; to open the sanitary sewer to more homes," Swartzmiller explained. "Homes in the older part of town...both sides still have drainage problems," Swartzmiller agonized.

"They've taken it over and put deadlines on it," he told board members.

Fleury shared Swartzmiller's frustrations. Fleury explained that the village had received the permit to do the project, but now the DEQ is holding it up. "At this point I don't think they'll budge on the 2010 date," Fleury commented.

Among the DEQ's requirements is to have the entire 15 miles of sanitary sewer inspected. Fleury quoted $1.50 per foot as the approximate cost to have the sewers inspected professionally.

The council discussed the sewer televising equipment, which had been purchased by the village. Swartzmiller explained that the televising equipment "works great for 4", 6" and 8", but not those 12" or larger." So village DPW employees should be able to perform some of the inspections, but not all. The council concluded the project would be costly.

Adding to sewer costs, Fleury said, "Right now, the budget to do Chapman Street is $2 million."

Council members expressed concern over the enormous cost. "In my experience with the DEQ, money is not an issue," Fleury sighed.

Swartzmiller said, "We are strapping the village bad. There's so much that goes along with the project." He talked about the challenges on Pearl Street, near the Michigan Festivals and Events office. "We're not sure where we're going to put the storm sewer."

"Green Acres was our project," Swartzmiller stated. He later pointed out "It was never intended to have a time line. We have to go into every home, and some you can tell right away where the connections are."

President Joe Sedlar told Swartzmiller, "I don't understand how they feel we can do this. It frustrates me. Saginaw can dump into the system and we can't even get hooked up to the system. How can they say it's going to overflow the [Chesaning Wastewater Treatment] Plant? They don't know where it's coming from."

Swartzmiller commented, "We've made improvements."

Sedlar responded, "They don't take that into account. If they say get it done, I don't know what we're going to do."

Sedlar addressed Fleury saying, "Hear anything about the stimulus?"

Fleury responded, "Everyday. It changes everyday. We're constantly getting new news." He added that he has heard that there is no money for local streets though.


According to Chesaning Village Administrator Marlene Schultz, there are 1,047 village properties with sewer connections that would have to be checked before the DEQ's December 2010 deadline.

The village has four maintenance workers. Each inspection takes three village workers (one to operate the camera) an average of one to five hours. One inspection took two days because the line had to be cleaned out first, Schultz explained.

If they were to achieve a fast pace of three inspections per day, running five days a week, every week without any holidays or glitches, that takes about 70 weeks (approximately one year four months). This time line assumes that every storm water sewer line has already been separated out from the sanitary sewer ... which isn't the case.

In addition to the immensity of the endeavor, the village would be without the services of those three employees for other general maintenance activities during the entire time. This means 75 percent of the maintenance staff wouldn't be available for snow removal, wastewater treatment plant maintenance, mowing in the village and at the airport, reading meters, and now the village has two parks (Showboat and Cole) that require a great deal of clean-up before spring and summer activities begin.

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