DOWNRIVER UTILITY WASTEWATER AUTHORITY
JANUARY 12, 2023 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 9:00 AM and asked for roll call to be taken. At the time of roll call, voting representatives were in attendance from 13 communities: Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Lincoln Park, Riverview, River Rouge, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren Township, and Wyandotte. A quorum (at least 7 members) was present. Each representative introduced himself/herself by name.
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Copies of the Agenda were made available prior to the meeting (Attachment 1). Motion by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by Jeff Dobek (Riverview) to approve the Agenda. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
3. APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM DECEMBER 8, 2022 BOARD MEETING
Copies of the meeting minutes from the December 8, 2022 Board meeting were distributed by email prior to the meeting (Attachment 2). Motion by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) and supported by Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) to approve the minutes. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
4. LEGAL UPDATE
Attorney Brandon Grysko, of Fausone Bohn, provided the Legal Update.
a. General Counsel Monthly Report
Attorney Grysko stated that a written summary of the monthly legal update was provided in the pre-meeting Board packet (Attachment 3). Attorney Grysko stated that it was a typical month of activities related to assisting the System Manager with various projects. Fausone Bohn also participated in a virtual Legal Committee meeting to discuss contract terms related to the dryer project.
5. 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 4).
a. System Manager Monthly Report
System Manager Tercala noted the following highlights from the System Manager Report:
- An update on the dryer project will be provided later in the meeting. The goal is to get the dryers continuously online by January 27th which is when DUWA’s waste profile permit with the Waste Management landfill expires. The dried solids are planned to be used for beneficial reuse by a third party once the dryers are online.
- The Selection Committee for the UV Disinfection Replacement Project held interviews with both engineering firms on January 10th and will provide their recommendation of Engineer later in the meeting. Recommendation of award is expected to be brought forward at the February Board meeting after the Technical Committee has the opportunity to review and provide input on the recommendation.
- During routine maintenance of the gate chamber at the Goddard and Allen intersection in Taylor, a 4-inch diameter ‘drop’ was discovered at the bottom of the Goddard Interceptor. HRC was authorized by the System Manager for a not-to-exceed fee of $3,200 to develop a flow diversion plan that would allow for a visual inspection of the ‘drop’ (Attachment 5). The initial flow diversion plan involved placing sandbags upstream of the chamber to temporarily stop the flow, however the sandbags were unable to hold back the flow. HRC developed a new plan that involves installing a sewer balloon upstream of the chamber to stop the flow. Veolia does not have this equipment nor the personnel to perform this work, so OHM requested quotes from contractors to perform the work. OHM is pending receipt of these quotes.
- An energy audit was performed at the DWTF to identify potential energy-saving projects. MEA, DUWA’s utility consultant, reviewed the energy audit report and recommended that the projects with a return on investment of less than two years be considered for implementation. These proposed projects will be reviewed with the Technical Committee for prioritization of completion.
- The BASF facility in Wyandotte reported they are in need to treat groundwater for PFAS and other constitutes to reduce their load flowing into surface water bodies. BASF is currently working on a permit modification request to DUWA as BASF is requesting to discharge the treated flow to the DWTF. DUWA’s technical and legal professionals will be reviewing this request once additional information is provided by BASF.
- Wayne County had indicated that it is unlikely that DUWA will receive ARPA funding in the Batch 2 request. The County understands the importance of the UV disinfection replacement project, but has not indicated that ARPA funding will be provided to DUWA for the project. Board Commissioners are encouraged to continue working with their Wayne County Commissioners on this ARPA funding request.
- DUWA received indication of possible overpayment by Wyandotte due to double reporting of BASF’s water consumption. DUWA’s financial team will review the possible overpayment, and then, as applicable, the overpayment request will be reviewed by the Finance and Technical Committees.
- A comparison between Veolia’s current annual O&M fee and their projected 2023 O&M fee shows that the current fee is closely aligned with the 2023 O&M fee that was projected at the time of system transfer (Attachment 6). It should be noted that several contract modifications and amendments have been implemented since the execution of the contract in 2018, including removal of natural gas costs from Veolia fee.
- Consistent with adopted policies, the System Manager has authorized the following expenditures, all of which have been budgeted in the 2023 budget:
- The System Manager continues to maintain an account with Google Workspace for a fee of $12/user/month that allows for DUWA’s professionals to easily share files. This is especially helpful during the annual audit.
- The System Manager has authorized the renewal of DUWA’s ESRI GIS licenses through March 2024 for an annual fee of $1,300. These licenses allow Veolia to easily update and maintain DUWA’s GIS database.
- The NPDES permit renewal fee of $20k will be paid in accordance with the December 2021 Board approval of all future annual NPDES permit fees.
Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) suggested that the Board Commissioners reach out to politicians higher than the County level as support from these politicians could impact multiple DUWA communities with one effort. Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) noted that Congresswoman Dingell recently passed a grant for the wastewater treatment plant in Grosse Ile and could potentially influence the Downriver congresspeople to consider DUWA’s ARPA request. Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) indicated that she would reach out to Congresswoman Dingell. System Manager Tercala suggested that a meeting over coffee or lunch could be held with the various Downriver politicians to request their support as well and to contact her if this is something you’d like coordinated.
Rick Rutherford (Belleville) asked if there is concern that the sewer balloon will create flooding upstream. System Manager Tercala responded that this concern was brought up to HRC and a response is forthcoming. She added that a vactor truck will be used to dewater the upstream manhole if the manhole is shallow enough and the surcharge is high enough. The temporary flow diversion will only last as long as necessary to perform the visual inspection of the ‘drop’.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked where the groundwater from the BASF site is currently being discharged and if EGLE will require BASF to treat their groundwater before it is discharged to the DWTF. System Manager Tercala responded that the groundwater at the site is currently uncontrolled and can comingle with surface water bodies. BASF plans to install an in situ barrier wall and extraction wells with carbon and resin treatment as a pretreatment solution. DUWA works with their Industrial Users to protect DWTF and its effluent. Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) asked if this additional groundwater flow will cause capacity issues within the regional collection system. System Manager Tercala responded that the estimated flow of the treated groundwater is very low, nearly 25 gpm, and the flow capacity would be counted towards Wyandotte’s Maximum Allowable Flow Limit (MAFL), if permitted.
b. Biosolids Dryer Facility Project
Jason Nash provided an update on the Biosolids Dryer Facility project to the Board (Attachment 7). The use of alum instead of ferric chloride to mitigate reheating events with the biosolids proved to be successful in eliminating the reheating events, however created issues with plant compliance and particle settleability. Additional jar testing showed that the use of polyaluminum chlorides (PACl), another aluminum-based product, would be more effective in settling out particles. The PACl trial began on December 20th, 2022 and has so far produced results even better than the previously-used ferric chloride. A small amount of ferric chloride is still dosed for odor control. The Veolia Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) related to the cost responsibility of the pilot testing of alum is in effect and Veolia covers the cost difference between using PACl and ferric chloride during the PACl trial period.
The team is working to resolve issues with the cake pumps to allow for continuous operation of the dryers before the January 27th deadline when Waste Management will no longer accept DUWA’s biosolids. The cake pumps that pump the sludge from the centrifuge to the dryer have been tripping off during operation. A company representative reviewed the pumps and their calculations and determined that the pumps are correctly sized for the demand and should work as designed. An electrical contractor is now onsite performing testing to see if there is an electrical issue causing the pumps to trip. The team has adjusted the pump settings to ensure the pumps do not trip during dryer operation, but a long-term solution is still needed. There also continues to be issues with the material bridging over the top of the screw instead of falling into the cake bin. Kruger will bear the cost for the redesign of the leveling screws and bin. This work will be completed over the next few months, but the dryer can operate in the meantime. The dryer has been running at 80% capacity with no trips, and the team will work to run the dryers at 100% capacity.
Walsh has indicated that they are substantially complete and are working through their final punchlist items. Walsh is preparing their final package of warranty and dates of completion, and will submit the package for approval.
Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) asked who performed the Seepex pump inspection. Jason Nash responded that the Seepex pump manufacturer performed the inspection onsite and then took the pump back to the factory to further inspect the individual components.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if there is a cost differential between PACl and alum. Jason Nash responded that PACl is more expensive, however not as much chemical needs to be dosed (lower volume). He added that there have not been reheating issues since ferric chloride was removed from the treatment process. System Manager Tercala added that the PACl trial period will allow the team to determine the optimal dosing of PACl, which will determine its ongoing operational cost.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if a drier cake worsens the bridging issues. Jason Nash responded that this possibility was considered, but the bridging issues occurred even when the cake had a higher moisture content. It was also noted that too wet of a cake produces inefficiencies with the centrifuges and dryer system.
6. OTHER REQUESTS FOR AUTHORIZATIONS AND APPROVALS
a. Dykema (Bond Counsel) for MBO Compliance Review
DUWA is required to meet its debt covenant ratio per the Master Bond Ordinance that took effect at the time of system transfer. The debt covenant ratio requires that DUWA’s net system revenue exceeds its total debt service. During the review of budget projections, Plante Moran and PFM reached out to Dykema, DUWA’s Bond Counsel, to advise on the actions needed for DUWA to address the MBO’s debt covenant ratio. Dykema researched viable options to meet the coverage ratio and provided a recommendation. Dykema has invoiced DUWA $1,725 for this effort (Attachment 8).
Motion by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) to approve the payment of Dykema’s invoice of $1,725 for efforts related to ensuring compliance with DUWA’s Master Bond Ordinance. This invoice will be paid from DUWA’s Financial Services line item of the budget. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
b. Recommendation of Engineer for UV Disinfection Replacement Project
The UV Disinfection Replacement Project RFP was posted for public bid on October 31st of last year. Three addenda were released during the public bid period, and two bids were received by the December 12th due date. Each member of the Selection Committee, which was comprised of community representatives and DUWA professionals, independently reviewed the proposals. Interviews were held with both engineering firms on January 10th. Upon review of the proposals and the information provided during the interviews, the Selection Committee recommends Black & Veatch as the Engineer for the project (Attachment 9).
Black & Veatch proposes to provide their engineering services with an in-house team, many of whom are local. Their project portfolio was extensive and demonstrated examples of comparable projects with similar flow rates to those received at the DWTF. Black & Veatch was also the lowest bidder.
This recommendation of Engineer will be presented to the Technical Committee at their meeting next week, and pending their agreement, a recommendation of Award of Contract will be brought forward to the Board at the February Board meeting.
7. CONTRACT OPERATOR UPDATE
Veolia’s General Manager Jason Tapp provided the Contract Operator update.
a. November 2022 MOR
The October 2022 Monthly Operating Report (MOR) was provided in the Board’s pre-meeting packet (Attachment 13). Highlights from the summary and other updates included the following:
- Plant operations remain in compliance, and no bypasses occurred in 2022. The additional capacity of the secondary clarifiers helped prevent bypassing several times this year.
- The month of November was dry, with only about 778 MG of wastewater received, which is low for any month of the year.
- Glycol levels are low, but glycol began to be received at the DWTF in December and will continue through early spring.
- The use of PACl instead of alum provides for better particle settling than both alum and ferric chloride. This improves the efficiency of the UV disinfection system as the water is clearer which allows for the UV power level to be turned down since not as much energy is needed for disinfection.
- Three vacant staff positions in November. Veolia has received many applications and is confident that these positions will be filled with good candidates.
- Veolia staff performed cleaning throughout the plant to remove debris and clutter, and the buildings look much neater.
- The replacement towbros have been installed and the clarifiers have been put back into service. Veolia staff manufactured lifting and rolling devices to assist with the transportation and installation of the towbros.
- Electrical staff fixed the programming on the polymer system and rebuilt one of the three polymer dosing systems. This work was completed in-house, and the system is fully functional again.
- 284 Miss Dig tickets were submitted in November. Five of these tickets were design related, 20 of these tickets were emergency, and 94 tickets required site marking.
- The collection system team has performed routine maintenance such as replacing equipment and changing flow meter batteries. A phone line was repaired that was connected to one of the flow meters allowing for it to maintain communication for data transmittance.
- Cold weather safety was discussed during November. This involved reviewing the proper PPE for cold weather and when to stop work due to extreme cold.
b. Chemical & Sludge Price Updates
Jason Tapp presented the summary of commodity unit price changes to the Board (Attachment 11). Due to the price of chlorine gas, the unit price for ferric chloride was expected to increase from $1.72/gal to $2.72/gal in 2023, but Veolia was able to lock in a price of $2.50/gal for the entire year. Only a small amount of ferric chloride is being dosed so there should be a substantial reduction in ferric chloride usage in 2023 compared to 2022. The dosage of ferric chloride will be finalized once the optimal dose of PACl is determined during the trial period. The unit pricing of PACl will be added to the list of commodity unit prices to be tracked if it provides favorable results during the trial period.
The cost for sludge hauling has significantly increased since the beginning of 2022. Veolia worked with their hauler to reduce the rate based on recent spikes in diesel costs.
c. Biosolids Disposal Outlets
Jason Tapp stated that Waste Management may reject DUWA’s biosolids citing PFOS concerns. Waste Management has granted Veolia an 8-week permit extension, which expires on January 27th. Veolia is finalizing a contract with a beneficial reuse facility in Ontario, that will accept DUWA’s dried solids to be used for fertilizer. While the contractual agreement is still in process, the all-in pricing is expected to be very favorable to DUWA. The beneficial reuse facility also provides transportation of the biosolids to the Ontario facility and takes responsibility of the product once it leaves the DWTF property. The biosolids project team is working to get the dryers continuously online by the January 27th deadline so that the dried solids can be sent to Ontario. If the dryers are not online by that date, Veolia has identified facilities in southern Ohio and northern Indiana that will accept DUWA’s biosolids, but the hauling and disposal costs would be much higher.
Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) asked if Veolia has performed a cost-benefit analysis of providing the biosolids hauling services in-house. Jason Tapp responded that a cost-benefit analysis was performed, and it showed a cost savings compared to the current sludge hauling and disposal costs, but would cost more than the forthcoming agreement with the Ontario facility. He added that third-party haulers are of benefit to DUWA because they have relationships with landfills and help DUWA secure contracts with landfills that otherwise would not accept DUWA’s biosolids. The third-party haulers also take on the risk of supplying and maintaining the fleet which provides significant cost savings. Jason Tapp indicated that he would share the cost-benefit analysis with the Board via email at a later date.
Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if the Ontario facility will pay DUWA for the privilege to use the dried product for fertilizer. Jason Tapp responded that DUWA will be pay the facility to transport the biosolids and added the ownership of the biosolids are transferred to them once they leave the DWTF property. System Manager Tercala added that the dryer system is allowed to be offline for two weeks per year for maintenance, so it will be necessary to maintain a relationship with a landfill to take the biosolids during that time. Attorney Kerry Morgan (Riverview’s attorney) asked if there are any American companies that would be interested in buying DUWA’s dried solids for fertilizer. Jason Tapp responded that there is not a market in Michigan for dried biosolids because they are unstabilized which causes a perceived dust and odor concern.
Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked when the contract with the Ontario facility will be finalized. Jason Tapp responded that they are finalizing terms and expect to have a signed contract within a week. The facility is excited about this opportunity to partner with Veolia and DUWA. The facility has provided a trailer in anticipation of loading and hauling the dried solids.
Rick Rutherford (Belleville) asked how much dried product has been produced through the dryers to date. Jason Tapp responded that he will share this volume with the Board via email at a later date. Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) asked that an update on the status of the landfilling and dryer operation be provided to the Board ahead of the January 27th landfill restriction deadline. Jason Tapp confirmed this will be provided.
8. TREASURER’S REPORT
a. Aging AR
Treasurer Jason Couture (Taylor) presented the Aging Accounts Receivable report (Attachment 12). Treasurer Couture stated that the total amount in the Accounts Receivable is approximately $1.65M and about 91% of that is within 30 days. The Aging AR report shows an outstanding payment of $80k due from Allen Park that is over 90 days; however, this outstanding payment will be resolved by the Allen Park credit that will be applied at the end of 2022. There is an outstanding payment of $14k due from Belleville that is over 90 days. There were some questions on how to complete the new self-reporting form that was distributed in July, so Doug Drysdale (DNS; DUWA’s Accountant) will work with Belleville to resolve these questions and address the overdue payment.
Doug Drysdale (DNS; DUWA’s Accountant) added that there has been turnover with Dearborn Heights’ financial staff so there have been difficulties in figuring out their billing system. Dearborn Heights discharges to two wastewater systems, and the billing system is not set up to distinguish between which customer account discharges to which wastewater system. Thus, Dearborn Heights will continue to self-report using their estimated values as they have been doing, and then these values will be reconciled once the billing system has been updated with the proper codes for each customer account.
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 13). The invoice register included 36 invoices due for a total of $903,807.67. Largest invoices included those to Aon for insurance premiums and to Wyandotte for utility services.
Motion by Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) and supported by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) to pay the invoice register. The motion passed unanimously with all attending members.
9. PUBLIC COMMENT
There was no public comment.
10. OTHER BUSINESS
Attorney Brandon Grysko stated that Attorney Jim Fausone had discussions with the existing slate of Board officers and all would like to continue to serve in their existing roles (Attachment 14). The existing slate of officers had the opportunity to decline their nomination if they so desired as others had offered to serve as an officer if needed, but no one declined. Attorney Grysko added that the officers are very important to the DUWA operation and that their time and effort in supporting DUWA and the DUWA professionals is greatly appreciated.
Motion by Mayor Joseph Kuspa (Southgate) and supported by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) to re-elect Mayor Gail McLeod (Allen Park) as DUWA’s Chair, Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) as DUWA’s Vice Chair, Roberto Scappaticci (Romulus) as DUWA’s Secretary, and Jason Couture (Taylor) as DUWA’s Treasurer through 2023. The motion passed unanimously with all attending members.
11. NEXT BOARD MEETING DATE: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 (9:00AM; IN-PERSON)
Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) reminded the Board that the next meeting would take place on Thursday, February 9, 2023 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 Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) to adjourn the meeting. Motion passed unanimously at 10:01 AM.
Meeting Minutes Prepared by:
Mackenzie Johnson, OHM Advisors, Engineer
Meeting Minutes Reviewed by:
Lambrina Tercala, OHM Advisors, DUWA System Manager
- Meeting Agenda
- December 8, 2022 DUWA Board Meeting Minutes
- Monthly Legal Update (by Fausone Bohn)
- System Manager Report for January 2023 (by OHM Advisors)
- Proposal for Goddard Interceptor Sewer Investigation (by HRC)
- Veolia Annual O&M Fee Comparison (by OHM Advisors)
- Biosolids Dryer Facility Project December 2022 Monthly Progress Summary (by Veolia)
- Dykema Authorization for MBO Compliance
- Recommendation of Engineer for UV Disinfection Replacement Project
- Monthly Operating Report for November 2022 (by Veolia)
- DWTF Unit Price Changes Summary (by Veolia)
- Aged Accounts Receivable Report, dated January 6, 2023 (by Doug Drysdale)
- Invoice Register, dated January 6, 2023 (by Doug Drysdale)
- Board Officer Elections