Plymouth water problems persist

Mar. 15, 2013  PLYMOUTH VOICE.


Canton water rates stay level while Plymouth struggles


Despite a 9-percent increase in the cost of water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the staff of Canton Township Municipal Services and Finance and Budget Departments are recommending no overall increase in the average residential customer’s water and sewer rates for 2013. If the board of trustees concurs with staff recommendations at the March 19 Water and Sewer Rate Study Session, the 2013 cost to an average residential customer will stay the same as it was in 2012.

In previous years increases were necessary in order to keep the rates in line with pricing that recovers the costs of building, operating and maintaining clean and safe water, according to a news release from the township.

Canton was able to control the 2013 internal costs through 13 unpaid furlough days in 2012 and another 10 unpaid furlough days in 2013. Additional savings in the form of employee health care costs will help keep the rate increase in check, the release stated.

In addition, the hot summer last year resulted in higher water usage than forecast when the rates were calculated in February, which helped reduce the required rate increase in 2013.

In Plymouth Township, water rate increases and problems persist as officials say they are committed to “providing the highest level of services at the lowest possible cost,” when it comes to water rates. In their winter newsletter, officials report they were again notified by the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) of a proposed 16.2-percent water rate increase and they “Immediately initiated communication with DWSD and were able to lower the increase to 13.8-percent” and will propose only a portion of that percentage be passed along to consumers and residents later this year.

During recent township board meetings, officials offered varied reasons for the latest increase notification from the City of Detroit water department, but most reiterated were attributed to on-going problems with the Five Mile Road water tower, and so-called ill-timed readings by DWSD. One board member offered the controls were struck by lighting, and another said the tank wasn’t filling properly on the day DWSD took the readings. Officials have said in the past that the water tower operation was unsatisfactory. Township officials were notified by the DWSD in September of 2010 that the township had exceeded the limits of the agreement for the purchase of water.

Last year officials said repairs, valves and pumps would help the township avoid another proposed rate increase and penalties from Detroit if the work on the tower was begun by June.

Since April of 2008 when the new township water tower was reported functioning by engineers, the 1 million gallon tank has reportedly not been filled to more than 65 percent capacity. It is said the tank will hold only 250,000 gallons of water before draining to that level.

At last weeks board of trustees meeting, Trustee, Charles Curmi asked officials when work would be completed and to report on the status of the repairs, possibly in a workshop session.

The cost of the water tower including repairs is currently $2,679,384 and increases are expected if reports of a needed additional and dedicated line in parallel to the Five Mile water main at the Sheldon Road pump station and installation of booster pumps to correct the deficiency are approved. There are estimates that additional expense could push the total cost of the water tower to as much as $3 to $4 million.

The 12-page newsletter mailed to the townships 27,000 residents said “The system was operating at peak loads, which triggered immediate investment in new infrastructure…(we) recently invested $500,000 in water system improvements due mainly to heavy peak time users.”

To date there has been no final word from officials as to when the tower will function as designed and will provide a steady and consistent level of water pressure. | News Plymouth Michigan








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