New sewer system experiencing higher-than-expected numbers

HANCOCK – The cause for a higher-than-expected flow rate in the new sewer system in Hancock will be searched for after action Wednesday by the city council.

Glenn Anderson, Hancock city manager, said city workers have been trying without success to find the source of the increased flow in the sewer system, which was completed in late summer 2012.

“We’ve tried to do as many things as we can think of,” he said.

Anderson said OHM Architects, Engineers and Planners in Hancock has suggested placing temporary monitors in five of the city’s eight districts to try to find the cause of the flow rate increase.

The project would cost an estimated $50,000, but Anderson said there may be a grant available to pay for it.

It would be best for the city to do the flow rate study as soon as possible, Anderson said, because it may become necessary to increase rates.

“Right now we have no baseline data (for the flow rates),” he said. “This is an effort to start a serious investigation.”

Council member John Haeussler said he has full confidence in OHM because of the company’s history of working with the city, particularly on the new water and sewer reconstruction projects, but he asked the other council members if the project should be bid out.

“There’s a lot of reasons why we would want (OHM) to proceed with this,” he said.

Council member Barry Givens said the project should be bid out.

“If we’re going for a rate increase, we have to show the people we’re doing this as cost effectively as possible,” he said.

Anderson said OHM knows the city’s sewer system very well, and it would be best to stay with them to find the source of the flow increase.

“To me (hiring a new company is) like firing your attorney halfway through a case,” he said.

Council member Ted Belej said valuable time would be lost if the project was bid out.

“If we put this out to bid, we’d lose two months,” he said.

Mayor Lisa McKenzie said OHM knows the sewer system, and she thinks OHM’s cost for the flow rate survey will stand up to other bids.

“I’m comfortable with OHM,” she said.

Tracie Williams of OHM said at least three flow meters should be used to find the source of the high flow rate.

“If you do less than three meters, it doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Williams said OHM could start the project in February.

The vote to use OHM for the project was 4-2 with Haeussler, Kevin Hodur, McKenzie and Belej voting yes, and Givens and John Slivon voting no.

Council members also voted to advertise for a replacement for William Laitila, who resigned from the board Jan. 6. Laitila was mayor but resigned that position in November, and was replaced by McKenzie.

An advertisement will be placed immediately in the Gazette for someone to replace Laitila. Applications must be received by Jan. 31, and a replacement will be named at a special meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 4.