DOWNRIVER UTILITY WASTEWATER AUTHORITY
FEBRUARY 9, 2023 MEETING MINUTES
CITY OF TAYLOR COUNCIL CHAMBERS WITH VIRTUAL OPTION
- 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 11 communities: Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Riverview, River Rouge, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren Township, and Wyandotte. A quorum (at least 7 members) was present.
- 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.
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM JANUARY 12, 2023 BOARD MEETING
Copies of the meeting minutes from the January 12, 2023 Board meeting were distributed by email prior to the meeting (Attachment 2). Motion by Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) and supported by Kevin Lawrence (Van Buren Township) to approve the minutes. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
- 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 added that Assad Turfe, the Deputy County Executive, responded to DUWA’s request for waiver of the final $3.5M payment due to Wayne County in September 2023. Mr. Turfe indicated that Wayne County remains to be a committed partner to DUWA, but will not waive the payment. However, Mr. Turfe indicated that Wayne County would be receptive to further discussions with DUWA to help facilitate the payment. Attorney Grysko is hopeful there may be an opportunity to negotiate the timing of the payment.
Dan Marsh (Southgate) asked for more detail on the work efforts related to the dental offices as listed in the legal update. Attorney Grysko responded that dental offices are required to provide information on their discharge to DUWA’s system on an annual basis per EGLE regulations. Some dental offices have not completed this paperwork, so Fausone Bohn sent a letter to these offices requiring that this paperwork be completed.
- 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 notes the following highlights from the System Manager Report:
- The dryer system is continuously online, however there is less throughput through the dryers than the contract requires. Additionally, more natural gas is being used by the dryers than anticipated. Further detail will be provided later in the meeting.
- 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 developed a plan that involves installing a sewer balloon upstream of the chamber to stop the flow to allow for a visual inspection of the ‘drop’. Two quotes have been received from contractors to perform the flow diversion work. The quotes are being reviewed and a recommendation of contractor will be presented to the Technical Committee.
- OHM is working with SEMCOG to facilitate DUWA’s first strategic planning workshop. This workshop will allow DUWA to be more proactive rather than reactive. The workshop is planned to take place after the April Board meeting and will be held on an annual basis. SEMCOG’s facilitation of this workshop is a free service to DUWA.
- Raftelis is working with Plante Moran and DNS Financial Services to develop the RY2023-2024 rate package. The new rate methodology will be phased in over a five year period, so 80% of the old rate methodology and 20% of the new rate methodology will be used to develop the rate package this year. The financial team is currently working with ASI and Veolia to compile the needed information. The team is also assessing the non-residential user (NRU) fees to optimize the self-reporting process.
- Johnson Matthey in the City of Taylor has submitted a wastewater exemption request application. This site has cooling towers that consume water, but do not discharge to the wastewater system. This application is currently under review.
- Wyandotte submitted an overpayment request to DUWA after it was discovered that they were double-reporting BASF’s water consumption. Per DUWA’s overpayment policy, there will be a maximum of a three-year lookback for potential refund. This request is currently under review and will be reviewed by the Technical and Finance Committees.
- Bulkmatic Transport is a permitted industrial user within DUWA’s system and thus is required to pay a surcharge fee. They provide samples of their own wastewater for DUWA’s review. Per the lab results of their 2022 sample, they are required to pay a $28k surcharge fee, which is significantly higher than the surcharge fees they have paid in previous years. It is possible that Bulkmatic Transport may dispute this fee with DUWA.
Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) stated that she met with Senator Geiss to discuss the UV project and provided her with material related to the UV project for her review. Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) encouraged all Board Commissioners to reach out to their State Senators and Representatives to discuss DUWA’s need for the UV project noting that she will also soon reach out to Senator Peters. Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) added that one of the main selling points of this request is that funding assistance for this project would help multiple communities in one effort, and many of these communities have adverse economic conditions. System Manager Tercala also added that there may be an opportunity to work with the non-profit Downriver Community Conference (DCC) to apply for grant funding. She asked the Board Commissioners to provide her with DCC contacts they may have to begin communications.
b. Biosolids Dryer Facility Project
Jason Nash provided an update on the Biosolids Dryer Facility project to the Board (Attachment 5). One dryer was in continuous operation for five days during the week of January 23rd. Both dryers were in continuous operation during the week of January 30th. As the throughput through the dryers was increased to get to full capacity, it was discovered that the dryers are not producing as much product as expected. The dosing pumps are only providing about 60% of the total material expected. Dosing pump tests were performed, and Kruger is currently analyzing the data.
Adjustments to the programming resolved the pump trip issue related to overfeeding of the cake pumps. The cake bin holds the material before it is sent to the dryer. Redesign of the cake bin is currently in progress, and the rebuild of the cake bin is planned to occur in May. As a part of this effort, Kruger will install new leveling screws with a higher capacity to move material in order to resolve the low pressure issues at the pump inlets that feed the material from the cake bin to the dryer. As these issues get resolved, the operation of the dryers will continue to ramp up to approach full capacity. Dried material is currently being transported to the LaSalle facility in Canada via one 100-cubic yard truck per day.
The chemical trial with PACl is ongoing, and the preliminary data looks good for long-term use. The optimal dosing will be determined during the trial. Walsh has completed most of their punchlist items and has provided completion dates as part of their project closeout paperwork. Veolia CPM as well as Fausone Bohn and OHM Advisors will be meeting with Walsh later this week to discuss the contract closeout process.
Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) asked if there will be more truckloads of material when the dryers are operating at full capacity. Jason Nash responded that the LaSalle disposal facility will take as much product as DUWA can produce. One truckload per day of dried material is currently being transported to LaSalle at 60% dryer capacity, so it is expected that 1-1.5 truckloads per day will be sent when the dryer is at full capacity. Jason Nash added that some product bypasses the dryers, and this product is transported to a disposal facility in Ohio. So far, about four truckloads in total have been sent to this facility. This facility only accepts one truckload per day.
Jim Taylor (Van Buren Township) asked when the dryers will be ramped up to full capacity. Jason Nash responded that they seek to increase operation in 5% increments per day in order to make operational adjustments as needed. It is also important that they do not increase the capacity too quickly as that could alter the material in a way that is undesirable for LaSalle. The limiting factor is the inlet pressure at the pumps. The leveling screws need to be replaced to resolve the low pressure issues at the pump inlets. This work will not be completed until May, so operation of the dryer at full capacity will not occur until May.
- OTHER REQUESTS FOR AUTHORIZATIONS AND APPROVALS
a. Soft Starter Purchase
Influent Pump Station pumps 5 and 6 are the two largest raw sewage pumps at the facility, and they have the ability to be controlled by a constant speed drive (soft start) or by a Variable Speed Drive (VFD). However, the VFDs have failed on both pumps and one of the existing soft starters also failed and required replacement. The VFDs will not be replaced due to their cost and the limited functionality that replacement would allow.
HRC was contracted to design a retrofit to provide redundant soft starters for the pumps to increase system resiliency. They have completed their design and Veolia plans to perform the work in-house. The purchase of an additional soft starter is necessary to perform the work. The total cost for the soft starter is $38,242, inclusive of Veolia’s 10% markup for installation and commissioning (Attachment 6). The Technical Committee reviewed the request and recommended it for approval.
Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) asked if the supplier of the soft starter also offers installation and commissioning services. Jason Tapp, of Veolia, responded that the supplier does not offer these services and an outside licensed electrician would have to be hired.
Motion by Mayor Bill Bazzi (Dearborn Heights) and supported by Rick Rutherford (Belleville) to authorize Veolia to purchase a soft starter for replacement of the VFDs on IPS Pumps No 5 & 6 for a cost of $38,242. This cost will be paid from DUWA’s Capital Outlay budget line item. The motion passed unanimously by all attending members.
b. Recommendation of Award of Engineer for UV Disinfection Replacement Project
Two bids, one from Black & Veatch and one from Wade Trim, were received in response to the UV Disinfection Replacement Project RFP that was posted for public bid back on October 31st of last year. The Selection Committee independently reviewed the proposals and held interviews with both engineering firms. Upon review of the proposals and the information provided during the interviews, the Selection Committee recommends Black & Veatch as the Engineer for the project. This recommendation was supported by the Technical Committee as well.
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 DUWA’s. Black & Veatch was also the lowest bidder.
Black & Veatch provided a base bid as well as optional additional services in their cost proposal. It is recommended to proceed with the SRF support, onsite testing of water quality, and computational flow dynamic modeling services. It is also recommended that the analysis of alternative disinfection options be removed from the scope because both bidders indicated that UV or UV with chemical treatment would be the only feasible disinfection options for DUWA due to the large swing between the WWTP’s dry and wet weather flows. In lieu of the alternative analysis, it is recommended that Black & Veatch hold a Disinfection Alternatives workshop with DUWA’s representatives to discuss alternative disinfection strategies and develop a recommendation. The inclusion of these additional services brings the total engineering fee to $601,510 (Attachment 7). For comparison, Wade Trim’s base fee was $675k. Additionally, DUWA’s budget allocates $1M from this year’s Capital Outlay to the UV project. Fausone Bohn and Black & Veatch’s legal team have also already agreed upon contract terms.
Motion by Mayor Tim Woolley (Taylor) and supported by Dan Marsh (Southgate) to authorize Veolia to accept the recommendation of Black & Veatch as the Engineer for the UV Disinfection Replacement Project and award contract for a not-to-exceed fee of $601,510. This fee will be paid from DUWA’s Capital Outlay budget line item. Due to this motion being related to authorizing a professional services contract, a roll call vote is required. A roll call vote was taken and the motion passed with 73.7% of the vote (affirmative vote by all attending members). Motion passed unanimously.
- CONTRACT OPERATOR UPDATE
Veolia’s General Manager Jason Tapp provided the Contract Operator update.
a. December 2022 MOR
The December 2022 Monthly Operating Report (MOR) was provided in the Board’s pre-meeting packet (Attachment 8). Highlights from the summary and other updates included the following:
- Plant operations remain in compliance, and no bypasses occurred in 2022.
- Just under one billion gallons of wastewater were treated at the DWTF in December. The highest flow received at the DWTF was 100 MGD, but no bypasses occurred. The amount of rainfall received in 2022 was much lower than previous years.
- The plant is running well with the use of PACl for phosphorous removal. A small amount of ferric chloride is still being dosed for odor control. The dosing of these two chemicals is being optimized in consideration of reducing the risk for reheating events. No reheating events have occurred since the alum/PACl trial began.
- There were no vacancy credits in December, but there are currently two operator vacancies and one mechanic vacancy.
- There were a total of 196 Miss Dig tickets in December, 41 of which were emergency.
- A boom lift was rented to allow for the replacement of about 30 light fixtures around the DWTF.
- Installation of the replacement towbros at the secondary clarifiers is complete.
- Four cake bin vibrators were installed to help drive more product through the cake bin. This is a temporary fix until the cake bin is redesigned.
- A 6-inch water line on the water skid burst and caused flooding in the basement. The maintenance team discovered the flooding and repaired the broken pipe.
- A Piedmont representative comes in quarterly to assist with the UV system. Piedmont is an authorized partner with Trojan who provides electrical and repair staff to work with DUWA’s UV system. The Piedmont representative provided tips and tricks to Veolia staff on how to keep the UV system running while limiting the use of spare parts to ensure the system can remain online until the new system is in place. Piedmont is also helping Veolia to acquire spare parts from other facilities that now have their new UV systems online.
- Veolia performed a fire drill and reviewed dust mitigation safety with staff. Dust mitigation is especially important around the dryers where dust is easily ignitable.
b. Chemical & Sludge Price Updates
Jason Tapp presented the summary of commodity unit price changes to the Board (Attachment 9). Ferric chloride has experienced the largest unit price increase over the past year of the chemicals used at the DWTF. However, only a small amount of ferric chloride is now 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 dosage of PACl for phosphorous removal is determined during the trial period. PACl has a higher unit price, but not as much volume is used so the costs should generally be equalized in the long run.
c. Biosolids Disposal Outlets
Jason Tapp stated that the biosolids disposal contract with Waste Management ended on January 27th. Other public and privately-owned landfills throughout the state of Michigan also denied acceptance of DUWA’s biosolids. A landfill in Dayton, OH will accept DUWA’s biosolids for a total all-in cost of $136/ton which includes transportation and disposal of the biosolids. This facility will accept dewatered biosolids that have not been dried by the dryers. Four 30-cubic yard truckloads in total have been sent to this facility so far. Dried solids are being sent to the LaSalle facility in Canada via one 100-cubic yard trailer per day for a lower cost than the Ohio facility. The dried solids are a much lighter material weighing only about 30 tons per truckload. The cost for sludge hauling and disposal in 2023 is expected to be much less than the cost in 2022.
Tim Sadowski (Ecorse) asked if Veolia has a training program for new employees. Jason Tapp responded that very few people have the qualifications to enter into this line of work, so Veolia has an internal training program for plant operations. It is more difficult to fill maintenance positions because these positions require more skilled trade experience. Tim Sadowski (Ecorse) added that Ecorse received state grants to pay for staff training programs and suggested that Veolia look into this grant opportunity.
- TREASURER’S REPORT
a. Quarterly Financial Report – 2022 Q4
Accountant Doug Drysdale (Southgate; DNS Financial Service) presented the Quarterly Financial Report for CY2022 Q4 (Attachment 10). On the Revenue and Expenditure report, miscellaneous revenues include payment from Constellation on the sell back of unused natural gas. Operating revenue is on track for sewage and excess flow revenues. 2022 was the final year for repayment to Allen Park. Interest earnings totaled $317k which was much more than expected as interest rates began to increase in 2022. Interest rates are expected to continue to increase in 2023.
Debt service payments are on track as expected. The invoice for the usage of the Southgate-Wyandotte outfall has not yet been received. The Veolia O&M payments are less than what was budgeted due to the amendment that removed natural gas costs from the O&M contract and put the onus on DUWA. The usage of natural gas in 2022 was lower than expected due to the dryers not yet being online, so the amount spent was less than expected. Total costs for the other utilities were higher than expected due to increased market prices. Sludge hauling and disposal costs were also higher than expected due to the dryers not being online. Plant operations were about $746k over budget in 2022. Other services, such as administrative and engineering services, were under budget by about $305k and capital outlay was under budget by about $368k. DUWA’s net revenue is about $652k, but some adjustments will still be made during the audit. DUWA ended the year in a relatively good financial position despite the various hurdles experienced in 2022.
The balance sheet shows that DUWA started the year with about $37M in cash and ended the year with about $37.5M in cash. Cash reserves are a little high because there are several Veolia O&M invoices from 2022 that have not yet been paid. There is an estimated $3.5M in Accounts Receivables, but this will be updated once all communities have submitted their sewage worksheets. Payment of the retainer from the dryer project is included in the short-term liabilities. The amounts in fixed assets and long-term bonds will be adjusted during the audit.
b. 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 $2.2M and about 97% of that amount is within 60 days. No communities have outstanding payments over 90 days so all communities are remaining up to date on their payments.
c. 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 36 invoices due for a total of $388,249.65. Largest invoices included those to Wyandotte for utility services. Treasurer Couture noted that the Veolia O&M and unit cost reconciliation invoices for the last few months have not yet been received, but it is expected that these invoices will be included on next month’s invoice register, which will likely result in the invoice register totaling a higher amount than normal.
Motion by Greg Mayhew (Wyandotte) and supported by Jeff Dobek (Riverview) to pay the invoice register. The motion passed unanimously with all attending members.
- PUBLIC COMMENT
There was no public comment.
- OTHER BUSINESS
There were no items brought forth for consideration as “Other Business” items.
- NEXT BOARD MEETING DATE: THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2023 (9:00 AM; IN-PERSON)
Chairperson McLeod (Allen Park) reminded the Board that the next meeting would take place on Thursday, March 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 9:44 AM.
Meeting Minutes Prepared by: Mackenzie Johnson, OHM Advisors, Engineer
Meeting Minutes Reviewed by: Lambrina Tercala, OHM Advisors, DUWA System Manager
- Meeting Agenda
- January 12, 2023 DUWA Board Meeting Minutes
- Monthly Legal Update (by Fausone Bohn)
- System Manager Report for February 2023 (by OHM Advisors)
- Biosolids Dryer Facility Project January 2023 Monthly Progress Summary (by Veolia)
- Request for Purchase of Soft Starter
- Recommendation of Award of Engineer for UV Disinfection Replacement Project
- Monthly Operating Report for December 2022 (by Veolia)
- DWTF Unit Price Changes Summary (by Veolia)
- Quarterly Financial Statement CY2022 Q4 (by Doug Drysdale)
- Aged Accounts Receivable Report, dated February 2, 2023 (by Doug Drysdale)
- Invoice Register, dated February 2, 2023 (by Doug Drysdale)