WATERVLIET — Watervliet city commissioners got an update Tuesday night on how the city’s ambitious infrastructure-upgrade effort, known as the Asset Management Plan, is progressing.
The plan aims not just to improve performance of the town’s wastewater operation and city roadways, but to wring additional efficiencies, and savings, by closely coordinating the timing of various projects.
Watervliet has retained the Wightman consulting firm to move the project forward. At Tuesday’s meeting, three Wightman representatives offered preliminary reports.
One principal problem the city hopes to correct is the cost burden associated with what is known as “inflow and infiltration,” or “I&I.” When rain water or ground water finds a weak point in the sewer system, that water pours into the lines and – because the city must pay for treatment of its sewer water – the I&I influx pushes up the city’s water-treatment costs significantly.
Wightman engineer Andrew Rudd quantified those costs. Over a one-year period, he said, the city’s two most troubled sewers are taking in 26.5 million gallons of water that doesn’t need to be treated. Treatment of that I&I water costs the city $82,450 annually, he said. Wightman projects that a mitigation plan would be able to eliminate at least 50 percent of that unwanted influx.
With the multiyear asset-managment program, City Manager R. Tyler Dotson told the commission following that presentation, “What we’re talking about is saving taxpayer dollars.”
A second Wightman representative, Patrick Schwyn, offered a report on the consulting firm’s survey of the state of Watervliet’s roads. The figures were underwhelming: About 60 percent of the town’s roads are rated “poor,” and the remaining 40 percent qualify as “fair.” None of the city’s roads qualify for a “good” rating.
That condition isn’t out of line with the roads of Berrien County as a whole, he noted, where roughly 68 percent of the county’s roads are “poor” and another 26 percent rate as “fair.” While the costs of maintaining or improving roads is daunting, Schwyn acknowledged, he emphasized the asset-management plan will lower Watervliet’s expenditures.
Separately, the commissioners approved to extend Dotson’s tenure as city manager. Dotson, joined the city in July 2018 under a two-year contract, but commissioners voted to replace the remainder of that contract with a new two-year accord, at an annual salary of $67,500.
The commission’s personnel committee “agreed that the energy and foresight Tyler has displayed is exceptional,” said Commissioner Duane Cobb.