City's asset plan to give detailed look at utilities 2015.02.25

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council members may soon have a clear grasp of what lies buried all over town through the development of an asset management plan.

The three-phase project would start with a mapping effort to locate existing assets including water and sewer lines, streets, curbing and sidewalks. The second phase would include the creation of a master plan for water distribution and wastewater systems, plus an inventory of street conditions.

The final phase would determine the costs of water, wastewater and street improvements, set priorities for action, and look at funding solutions to accomplish the work.

Council members voted Monday to move forward with the project by seeking bids from engineering firms. Sealed bids are due March 17.

City administrator/clerk Michael Sessions explained to council earlier this month that creation of an asset management plan is driven by on-going requirements from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). A DEQ report points out deficiencies in the city’s water and wastewater systems.

The DEQ requires, among other actions, an emergency response plan, a reliability study, a program to prevent cross-connections in the water supply that could lead to impurities, maintenance work in the water pumping house, better tracking of unaccounted water use, and an additional staff member to become certified as a back-up water system operator. A capital improvement plan is needed for five- and 20-year planning. Several of these deficiencies would be addressed in the asset management plan.

Sessions and city superintendent Barney Vanderpool met with three engineering firms to obtain sample scopes of services offered in an asset management plan to help better define what should be included in Morenci's plan.

PHASE I—The phase one mapping project would produce detailed locations of all water and sewer lines, including line sizes, hydrant locations, flow direction, manholes and valves. Streets, sidewalks and curbing would be included on the map. Electronic maps would be created for both the water and wastewater systems.

PHASE II—The second phase would create a master plan to satisfy DEQ requirements pertaining to reliability and improvements. Capital improvement needs would be listed for one year, five years, 10 years and 20 years. Historical data would be reviewed and compared to current usage and pumping needs. Water flow for fire protection needs would be included, and the conditions of assets such as the pump house would be examined.

A street condition inventory will be created, based on the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating Manual, and recommendations will be listed for the maintenance treatment needed for each individual street.

PHASE III—The final phase, dealing with costs and priorities, would examine the city's water and sewer rates and compare them to other communities in the area.

Additionally, a look at other city funding sources will be investigated to determine a plan for street repair.

City council placed $10,000 in the current year budget to begin the management plan. Sessions estimates that all three phases could cost as much as $45,000. Much of that cost would be covered by money in the water improvement fund.

During council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting Monday, councilor Brenda Spiess stated her preference for making the plan a one-year project.

“We should do it now and start saving for capital projects,” she said.

Council member Ron Apger added that citizens need to know that council is concerned about fixing the roads.

Sessions suggested seeking bids, examining the costs and services, and then deciding how to move forward.