Coloma Twp. to explore water service options

COLOMA — Coloma Township will start looking into where else it could get water from. 

Trustees on Wednesday approved allowing Wightman, an engineering firm, to research alternatives to the township’s water supply system. The township now gets water through a contract with Coloma.

Alan Smaka, with Wightman, told the board his firm has conducted a review of the township’s water system to get a whole picture, or status, on what could be repaired, replaced or improved. 

“Having done so, there are some issues relative to your current agreement that we believe you will be looking into discussing with the city,” he said. “At the same time, wanting more of a wholistic perspective on what that means to you, especially as you enter those discussions with the city, we did evaluate other alternatives.”

Smaka said there are feasible alternatives that the township could use as a comparison, within the realm of reality.

“There’s a lot of assumptions though with that in assuring that they really are feasible, so at this point this is mainly us looking to make some pretty broad assumptions,” he said. “(Your permission) allows us to have some preliminary discussions that if you were to seek other alternatives for water supply, that we could have general conversation about what the terms would be.”

Smaka said the terms of the township’s contract with the city do make a difference when it comes to short- and long-term aspects of system management.

“Especially considering some of the emerging regulatory environment around the DEQ, and how much more stringently they’re looking at water supplies. This is to be a little bit more proactive and make sure the township is looking wholistically across all your options,” he said.  

The board also approved a funding application to the United States Department of Agriculture for other work Wightman is doing on the township’s lift stations. The funding will help the township complete upgrades on all lift stations and any other needed sanitary sewer improvements. 

In other business, trustees approved a $16,000 contract with the Berrien County Drain Commissioner for work on the drain system between Little Paw Paw Lake and Paw Paw Lake. The amount will get paid by the township, as well as by assessments to the residents in the drain district.

Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin said this is just a temporary fix for some flooding residents have been experiencing in that area, but it will buy time while his office does research into a long-term solution. 

The board approved seeking a bond through Berrien County for improvements at the Paw Paw Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Dan Fette, with the Berrien County Board of Public Works, told trustees that the bond will pay off some old debt and pay to rebuild clarifiers at the plant, all at a very low interest rate.

Coloma, Coloma Township, Watervliet and Watervliet Township all use the treatment plant and had to sign on for the bond to go through.

Watervliet Township is the last municipality that has to approve it at its meeting next week.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman