OWNRIVER UTILITY WASTEWATER AUTHORITY
OCTOBER 13, 2022 MEETING MINUTES
CITY OF TAYLOR COUNCIL CHAMBERS WITH VIRTUAL OPTION
1. Roll Call and Introductions
DUWA Chair Gail McLeod (Allen Park) called the hybrid meeting to order at 9:01 AM and asked for roll call to be taken. At the time of roll call, voting representatives were in attendance from 10 communities: Allen Park, Belleville, Dearborn Heights, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, and Wyandotte. A quorum (at least 7 members) was present.
2. Approval of Agenda
Copies of the Agenda were made available prior to the meeting (Attachment 1). It was proposed to amend the agenda to add Item 7B for request of signature of the Veolia Memorandum of Understanding for Alum Pilot Testing Costs. Motion by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by James Krizan (Lincoln Park) to approve the amended Agenda. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
3. Approval of Minutes from September 9, 2022 Board Meeting
Copies of the meeting minutes from the September 9, 2022 Board meeting were distributed by email prior to the meeting (Attachment 2). Motion by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) and supported by Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) to approve the minutes. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
4. WRAP Program
Madison Merzlyakov, GLWA’s Affordability and Assistance Manager, and Shama Mounzer, Wayne Metro’s Executive Director of Empowerment and Integration Services, presented on GLWA’s Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP). The WRAP program was created in 2015 and provides water and sewer bill assistance, arrearage assistance, and conservation and minor plumbing repairs to qualifying households within the GLWA service area. Eligible participants must reside within the GLWA service area, have a household income at or below the 200% federal poverty level, be responsible for paying the water bill, and live in a home they own or rent. This is a 2-year program although senior citizens or those with disabilities can participate indefinitely. GLWA has made recent improvements to the program including the WRAP Income-Based Plan that allows for the bill credit amounts to be unique to each household depending on their need.
GLWA partners with Wayne Metro who administers the WRAP Program in Wayne County. Wayne Metro has been administering the WRAP Program since 2015 and desires to increase participation in the program as there are currently only 364 participants in all of the DUWA communities. Wayne Metro offers case management services to help households consistently pay their bills. Every client that participates in the WRAP program is automatically eligible to receive the numerous other services that Wayne Metro provides such as income tax and rental assistance. Wayne Metro also offers high accessibility in that WRAP program participants can upload all necessary documents online or can visit one of the 21 sites within Wayne County for assistance. Wayne Metro’s call center staff are also multilingual. Wayne Metro desires to expand community outreach efforts by holding more town halls and collaborating with grassroots organizations. GLWA will be holding a virtual meeting on October 27th at 1:00PM to provide additional detail on the WRAP Program. This meeting invite along with the other WRAP Program documents will be shared with the Board Commissioners (Attachment 3).
Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked if the arrearage assistance and plumbing repair efforts are covered by the 0.5% of GLWA revenues. Ms. Mounzer confirmed that these efforts are covered by the 0.5% of GLWA revenues. Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked how much of the available WRAP funds have been spent and what happens if the need is higher than the available funding. Ms. Mounzer responded that all of the available WRAP funding was spent last year. Future WRAP funding will be reallocated each year based on historical use within the various counties with the goal that the funding will be used within the same county that produced the funds from their payments to GLWA. Wayne Metro also offers other funding sources outside of WRAP that can be used for arrearage assistance before using WRAP funds. Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked if the amount of funding needed to satisfy the current need is known. Ms. Mounzer responded that the funding demand will be determined at the end of the year when the total number of participants is determined. She noted that WRAP Program participants must requalify each year.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if there are any statistics that show whether participation is increasing. Ms. Mounzer responded that most participants graduate from the program after two years without the need for future financial assistance largely due to water conservation measures and arrearage assistance. Ms. Merzlyakov added that the new Income-Based Plan should further help with program retention as bill assistance will be unique to each household based on their need. Previously, the $25 allocated to each household was not enough for some households, thus they dropped out of the program.
5. Legal Update
Attorney Jim Fausone, of Fausone Bohn, provided the Legal Update.
a. General Counsel Monthly Report
Attorney Fausone stated that a written summary of the monthly legal update was provided in the pre-meeting Board packet (Attachment 4). Attorney Fausone stated that the legal team has been providing assistance to the System Manager primarily on the UV disinfection project and the biosolids dryer project including assistance in identifying a third-party expert to review the biosolids dryer system, identify causes of the reheating events, and to provide recommendations to mitigate the reheating events. Attorney Fausone added that a letter was sent to Wayne County’s Deputy County Executive requesting a waiver of the $3.5M payment that is due to Wayne County in 2023. A response has not yet been received, but Attorney Fausone will follow up.
b. System Manager Evaluation Reminder
Attorney Fausone reminded the Board that the annual evaluation of the System Manager was circulated to the Board Commissioners for completion. The evaluation will be recirculated following this meeting for anyone who has not yet completed it.
6. System Manager Update
System Manager Lambrina Tercala, of OHM Advisors, provided a verbal summary of activities since the last meeting. A written summary was provided in the pre-meeting Board packet for the System Manager Report (Attachment 5).
a. System Manager Monthly Report
System Manager Tercala noted the following highlights from the System Manager Report:
- Wade Trim was the selected firm to perform the remaining useful life analysis on the UV system and their work has begun. A third-party engineering review of this system was requested in support of the request for ARPA funds from Wayne County to replace the UV system.
- Veolia is currently working on preparing the annual Asset Management Plan for submission to EGLE within the next month.
- CCTV inspection of the collection system is planned to begin at the end of the month. Manhole inspections efforts are continuing.
- Veolia’s collection system team identified a potential water leak in Wyandotte that is entering DUWA’s system. Jason Tapp, Veolia’s Program Manager, will share additional information with Greg Mayhew (Wyandotte).
- Veolia’s 2-year flow metering contract expires at the end of 2022. Veolia is preparing a request for a contract renewal.
- DUWA’s natural gas consultant is working with the System Manager on tracking the purchase and sale of natural gas. A summary of these purchases and sales will be provided to the Board at a future meeting.
- DUWA will be renewing its insurance with Aon this year. DUWA’s equipment insurance provider, Chubb, will be conducting its annual inspection of the DWTF in a couple weeks. As a result of their inspection last year, Chubb had recommended that DUWA complete a flood delineation survey of the DWTF and prepare a flood emergency response plan. Preparation of this plan for next year is now a requirement by Chubb. This effort is planned to be complete by the end of 2023.
- DUWA received and submitted 11 ARPA Resolutions from the local communities to Wayne County as a part of DUWA’s request for ARPA funding. Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) invited OHM to present DUWA’s ARPA funding request to Wayne County at this week’s Community Roundtable meeting. Wayne County followed up after the meeting indicating that they had received the ARPA Resolutions.
- Wyandotte Municipal Services recently completed a rate study and wastewater pumping facilities will receive a 2% increase from previous rates.
- EGLE recently announced a Grant Program opportunity that will help fund projects that address the impacts from large rain events. More information on this program will be provided later in the meeting.
- A wastewater exemption request renewal was approved for Wyandotte Municipal Services. A wastewater exemption request was received from the BASF facility and a meeting will be held to discuss their applications in more detail. Member communities are encouraged to remind their local industrial facilities of this program.
- The System Manager is working with Plante Moran and DNS on DUWA’s future rate projections. A joint Technical and Finance Committee meeting will be held next week to review these projections and identify opportunities to mitigate costs. Kalamazoo’s wastewater authority has also experienced large rate increases due to inflation.
b. EGLE High Water Infrastructure Grant Program
EGLE recently announced their High-Water Infrastructure Grant Program that provides grants for projects that address the impacts of severe wet weather events, specifically as they relate to system resiliency, flooding, and storm water management. Given the large rain event that occurred back in May 2019 that resulted in sanitary sewer overflows and a significant number of basement backups throughout the local collection systems, this grant funding opportunity could be used by DUWA to fund efforts to reduce the impacts of sanitary sewer peak flows within the system and at the plant (Attachment 6).
A tentative project that could be funded by the grant could include updating DUWA’s hydraulic sanitary sewer system model so that it can be used for emergency planning to evaluate options for improving the performance of the regional collection system during wet weather events as well as to minimize blending events at the plant. Eligible projects that are planned to be conducted by the local member communities could also be included in the project scope.
The grant program requires a 20% match. Considering DUWA’s projected budget shortfall this year, it is not proposed to spend additional funds on this grant program. However, it is possible that costs already anticipated and budgeted by DUWA be used, such as the flow metering program, since the flow metering data would be used to update DUWA’s model. If the local communities plan to proceed with eligible projects, those expenses could also be considered in the match. Another option would be to use the tunnel reserves for the match since these monies have rarely been used. Grant program applications are due by November 30th and a Resolution of Support by the Board would be required along with the application. A final resolution will be brought forward for approval at the November Board meeting.
Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) asked if there are projects within the regional collection system that could be included in the grant program project scope. System Manager Tercala responded that there are not currently known projects, but the project cost included in the application will include contingency for anticipated repair/rehabilitation projects that may be identified during this year’s CCTV inspection efforts.
Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) noted that FEMA’s grant program recently changed their local match requirement to a 90/10 percent cost split and asked that EGLE’s cost split of 80/20 be confirmed.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if sewer lining projects would be eligible to be included in the grant program project scope. System Manager Tercala responded that sewer lining projects are expected to be eligible for funding, and noted that these projects either be included with DUWA’s application or the local communities could apply for this funding directly (by the local community).
c. Biosolids Dryer Facility Project
Jason Nash provided an update on the Biosolids Dryer Facility project to the Board (Attachment 7). Considering the chemical reaction between the iron and sulfur within the biosolids is likely the cause of the reheating events, Veolia has explored several different chemical options to replace ferric chloride for phosphorous removal and has decided to proceed with the use of aluminum sulfate (alum). Three jar tests were performed to determine the effectiveness of using aluminum sulfate for phosphorous removal instead of ferric chloride, and all three tests were successful. It will take three to four weeks for the iron in the sludge to work its way out of the system, and at that time, bin tests will be performed to analyze whether the biosolids still experience reheating. Veolia is also currently drawing down the ferric storage tanks. EGLE confirmed that no permitting is necessary to switch chemicals since there will not be a change in treatment process.
The project team continues to work through issues with pump faults and bridging in the cake bin system. Additionally, it was discovered that a leveling screw had fallen into the bin taking it out of service. The team is figuring out how to safely remove the material and screw components from the bin. 24-hour operation of the dryers was planned to begin the week of October 17th in order to better understand the utility demands and address any issues caused by extended run times. The cake bin issue has now delayed the project schedule such that full 24-hour operation of the dryers is not projected to begin until the week of October 31st. The pro forma will also be updated with expected utility demands once 24-hour operation commences.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if reheating events caused by iron content in the biosolids is a common issue within the industry and if these issues should have been anticipated earlier in the design process. Jason Nash responded that the chemical cause of the reheating issue is not common knowledge since the reheating is due to a combination of both iron and sulfur. Attorney Fausone added that these questions are currently being evaluated by a third-party expert. He noted that the third-party expert stated that proceeding with a chemical change appears to be a good path forward at this time given the information available.
System Manager Tercala stated that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be forthcoming for signature by the Chair that states that additional costs related to using aluminum sulfate instead of ferric chloride will be the responsibility of Veolia. She noted that the cost for dosing alum is higher than the cost of ferric chloride listed in the contract. Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) asked if Veolia will cover the cost overages for only the trial period or for the remainder of the contract. System Manager Tercala responded that the cost overages would be paid by Veolia for the trial period only. If it is determined to proceed with the use of alum indefinitely, DUWA will be responsible for that cost. A cost projection for this chemical switch will be developed. Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) asked if the project team is still looking at other alternatives to mitigate the reheating events. System Manager Tercala responded that DUWA’s third-party expert will evaluate the issue and determine whether alternative causes should be explored and addressed; however, the expert has stated use of ferric chloride is expected to be a cause of reheating and encourages DUWA to proceed with the pilot program to test the effectiveness of alum. Attorney Fausone added that the third-party expert will also evaluate potential biological causes and equipment considerations in addition to the chemical aspect.
Greg Mayhew (Wyandotte) asked if other facilities with similar dryer systems have been contacted and if they have experienced similar reheating issues. System Manager Tercala responded that the third-party expert has facilities that have experienced similar issues, and noted that the third-party expert has experience with operation of these systems in addition to design and construction.
Rick Rutherford (Belleville) asked if the costs for repair of the leveling screw will be paid by DUWA. System Manager Tercala responded that the responsibility for payment of the repair will be by one of the contracted entities and not by DUWA, as Veolia CPM has indicated it is a warranty issue.
Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked if dosing alum will cause other issues in the final biosolids product that could affect its marketability for beneficial reuse. System Manager Tercala responded that the use of alum is not believed to affect the marketability of the biosolids for beneficial reuse, and added that Veolia indicated it would not impact other treatment processes either.
7. Other Requests for Authorizations and Approvals
a. Request for Payment of SEMCOG DMA Dues
DUWA has been a partner of SEMCOG’s Designated Management Agency (DMA) program since before the system transfer. Under this program, SEMCOG collects an annual fee from each partner to support regional water resource management planning activities, as well as member compliance with wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater requirements. This program also supports SEMCOG staff capacity for grant applications and match for federal and state grant funds. SEMCOG prepares an Annual Report which provides additional details on this program along with a summary of water resource planning activities in the region.
A motion is proposed to approve this current year’s DMA program fee as well as future annual fees, since participation in the program is perpetual and the program has been budgeted for by DUWA (Attachment 8). Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked if the motion could be amended so that it only approves payment of this year’s annual dues so that the Board is not obligated to pay for future expenses.
Motion by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) to amend the motion removing the term “as well as all future SEMCOG DMA fees” so that only this year’s fees are approved for payment.
Motion by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) to approve payment to SEMCOG for the 2022-2023 Designated Management Agency fee of $4,022. The invoice is included in this month’s invoice register. This fee will be paid from DUWA’s ‘Other Services and Charges – Professional Services’ budget line item. The motion passed unanimously with all attending members.
b. Veolia MOU for Alum Pilot Testing Costs
Veolia is preparing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining the responsibility for payment of excess costs incurred for testing the use of aluminum sulfate (‘alum’) for phosphorous removal at the DWTF in place of ferric compounds. This MOU will demonstrate that the excess costs related to pilot testing of aluminum sulfate will be the responsibility of Veolia CPM.
Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) asked if this MOU will obligate DUWA to pay for future costs related to the use of alum after the testing period is over. Attorney Fausone responded that the language in the MOU will relate to the testing period only since it is not yet known whether the use of alum for phosphorous removal will be effective and whether it has impact on other treatment processes. Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) asked if there will be a cap on costs for the alum pilot testing. Attorney Fausone responded that there will be no cap on costs since all excess costs incurred related to the alum testing period will be the responsibility of Veolia CPM.
Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) requested that the MOU be circulated to the Board Commissioners once finalized so others can review and comment before she provides her signature. Attorney Fausone confirmed that it will be circulated to the Board Commissioners.
Motion by Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) and supported by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) to authorize the Chair or Vice Chair to sign the forthcoming MOU by Veolia CPM related to the alum pilot testing costs pending review and approval by DUWA’s Legal Committee and Board Commissioners. The motion passed unanimously with all attending members.
8. Contract Operator Update
Veolia’s General Manager Jason Tapp and Veolia’s Plant Manager Travis Tuma provided the Contract Operator update.
a. August 2022 MOR
The August 2022 Monthly Operating Report (MOR) was provided in the Board’s pre-meeting packet (Attachment 9). Highlights from the summary and other updates included the following:
- Plant operations remain in compliance.
- Aluminum sulfate (‘alum’) is a known chemical that has been used for phosphorous removal at other wastewater treatment plants in Michigan. Jar testing has been performed to ensure its effectiveness. Alum dosing began earlier this week, and results are positive thus far. Additional data will be collected over the next few weeks.
- Plant operations remain in compliance.
- A little over one billion gallons of wastewater were processed in August. The average flow this month was about 33 MGD and the maximum flow received was 65 MGD. No bypasses have occurred yet this year.
- Four new operator positions have recently been filled and the new employees are working out well. There will be no vacancy credit for August as the open position has been filled. There are currently three positions available for operators. About 80 applications have been received over the past couple of months and ten applicants will be selected for interviews.
- Dry weather and subsequent low flows have allowed Veolia to take some processes out of service for maintenance.
- The gas monitoring system that monitors LEL and H2S in the Tunnel Pump Station was replaced in-house.
- Veolia’s electrician performed major maintenance on the motor starter of the sludge pumps.
- Accusonics flow meter RV-1 has been replaced with an ADS Triton meter. The Accusonics flow meter will now be able to be used for spare parts for the other remaining Accusonics flow meters.
- 248 Miss Dig tickets were submitted in August, and 30 of these were emergency.
- Many safety trainings have taken place via in-person and virtual meetings. Two job observations are required per employee per year in which one employee observes another employee perform a routine task and identifies any areas of improvement as it relates to safety. Over 100 job observations are performed each year, and the Veolia management team reviews these observation reports and incorporates comments/suggestions received into their Standard Operating Procedures.
b. Chemical & Sludge Price Updates
Jason Tapp presented the summary of commodity unit price changes to the Board (Attachment 10). The cost for ferric chloride is expected to increase from $1.57/gallon to $2.60/gallon in 2023 so it would be ideal to switch to alum for phosphorous removal if feasible. The pricing for alum has not yet been determined, but Veolia’s national procurement team is exploring potential long-term deals to minimize costs. The cost for alum is expected to increase by about 15% in 2023, but not as much as the expected cost increase for ferric chloride. Veolia also continues to explore different landfill and hauling options to reduce on sludge disposal costs.
Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked for clarification on the expected additional cost for the use of alum instead of ferric chloride. System Manager Tercala responded that Veolia has reported the anticipated 2023 cost for alum is expected to add an additional $300k in costs above the costs currently paid for ferric chloride to Veolia by DUWA. Tapp added that ferric chloride will not be needed if it is determined that alum is effective for phosphorous removal, so the cost for ferric chloride would be removed from the total cost related to phosphorous removal.
Program Manager Tapp added that Veolia has had conversations with their sludge hauler on the current rates. The hauler has a quarterly diesel surcharge term in the contract, and this surcharge recently increased. Veolia notified the hauler that this surcharge was too impactful and that Veolia will start looking for other haulers. The hauler then agreed to reduce the rate by $30/ton, but stated that Veolia must agree to pay applicable fuel surcharges on a monthly basis instead of a quarterly basis. Veolia has agreed to the reduced rate, but has not agreed to the monthly fuel surcharge statement. Once the biosolids dryers produce a consistently dry product, then an RFP will be posted for sludge hauling.
9. Treasurer’s Report
a. Aging AR
Treasurer Jason Couture (Taylor) presented the Aging Accounts Receivable report (Attachment 11). Treasurer Couture stated that the total amount in the Accounts Receivable is approximately $395k, and about $332k is current. No communities currently have any outstanding payments over 30 days. There are still some outstanding surveillance fees related to the industrial users, and Doug Drysdale (Accountant, DNS) is working to get these invoices paid.
Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked if the outstanding payments of the industrial users are one-time occurrences or if these payments are frequently overdue. Doug Drysdale (Accountant, DNS) responded that many of these outstanding invoices were mistakenly sent to the local industrial corporations instead of the larger branches of these corporations, so he is working on tracking down these invoices that were sent to the wrong location.
b. Pending Invoices
Treasurer Jason Couture (Taylor) presented the invoice register for a request for payment. The invoice register was provided in the pre-meeting packet (Attachment 12). The invoice register included 34 invoices due for a total of $4,740,809.28. Largest invoices included those to US Bank for semiannual SRF and WIFIA debt payments, Veolia for O&M services and unit cost reconciliations, and Wyandotte for utility services.
Motion by James Krizan (Lincoln Park) and supported by Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) to pay the invoice register. The motion passed unanimously with all attending members.
10. Public Comment
Eugene Anderson (Ecorse) stated that there appears to be a sewer leak at the intersection of River Drive and Southfield in Lincoln Park, just west of the bridge leaving Ecorse. He will follow up with OHM and the Veolia collection system team with more information.
11. Other Business
System Manager Tercala notified the Board that there will be a Joint Technical and Finance Committee meeting held on October 19th to review budget projections and to understand capital project needs for consideration in the draft budget.
Greg Mayhew (Wyandotte) asked what the next steps are for the UV disinfection replacement project now that Wade Trim has completed their remaining useful life analysis. System Manager Tercala responded that Wade Trim’s analysis determined that the UV disinfection system has a remaining useful life of about 20 months based on the availability of spare parts. The System Manager is coordinating with the Board Officers to discuss the RFP. OHM is working on drafting the RFP. There has been some hesitancy from DUWA communities to take on the UV project while the Dryer project remaining outstanding. The RFP does not commit the Board to proceed on the project, but rather it will allow for the Board to be well-informed on the anticipated costs and timeline of construction based on the bids received.
Following this Board meeting, a brief video highlighting the DWTF will be shown to the Board. A photo will also be taken of the Board Commissioners to be posted to DUWA’s website.
12. Next Board Meeting Date: Thursday, November 10, 2022 (9:00 AM; In-Person)
Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) reminded the Board that the next meeting would take place on Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 9:00 AM in-person at Taylor City Hall.
There being no other business, Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) announced that a motion to adjourn would be in order. Motion by Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) and supported by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) to adjourn the meeting. Motion passed unanimously at 10:20 AM.
Meeting Minutes Prepared by:
Mackenzie Johnson, OHM Advisors, Engineer
Meeting Minutes Reviewed by:
Lambrina Tercala, OHM Advisors, DUWA System Manager
- Meeting Agenda
- September 9, 2022 DUWA Board Meeting Minutes
- WRAP Program Materials (by GLWA and Wayne Metro)
- Monthly Legal Update (by Fausone Bohn)
- System Manager Report for September 2022 Board Meeting (by OHM Advisors)
- EGLE High Water Infrastructure Grant Program (by OHM Advisors)
- Biosolids Dryer Facility Project September 2022 Monthly Progress Summary (by Veolia)
- Request for Payment of SEMCOG DMA Dues
- Monthly Operating Report for August 2022 (by Veolia)
- DWTF Unit Price Changes Summary (by Veolia)
- Aged Accounts Receivable Report, dated October 6, 2022 (by Doug Drysdale)
- Invoice Register, dated October 6, 2022 (by Doug Drysdale)