As the City of Saline pitches a five-year, one-mill levy to improve the quality of local roads, city leaders are learning about other infrastructure needs.
At a work session Monday night, Brian Rubel, of Tetra Tech, went over the results of a SAW Grant Utility Study. In 2016, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced $97 million in grants to help municipalities assess the condition of sanitary sewers, storm sewers and wastewater treatment plants. Saline received a $903,000 grant for its study, which was conducted by Tetra Tech.
“The idea is to assess all of the components of these system. All of these assessments lead to a capital improvement plan, so that you can have a roadmap for the future and set aside the proper amount of money you’ll need to maintain your infrastructure,” Rubel told city council.
The study looks for short term and long term issues. As a result, the DPW has already been out clearing a blockage where sewage was coming out of a manhole coverage. But overall, Rubel said, the city’s sanitary sewer system appears to be in decent condition.
“I was pleasantly surprised we haven’t seen any tremendous problems or parts of the sewer line near failure. By and large, it’s in good shape,” Rubel said.
Rubel told council he would soon sit down with city staff to begin adding utility needs to the city’s capital improvement plan – which will eventually need to be approved by council.
To date, Tetra Tech has completed asset inventory, sanitary sewer televising, storm sewer televising, a preliminary capital improvement plan (not made public), and sanitary and storm sewer capacity modeling.
Most of Rubel’s 40-minute presentation Monday focused on Saline’s sanitary sewer system, which carries waste from homes and businesses to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. In Saline, the sanitary sewer system is served by three major north-south trunk lines – the east, the central and the west. All of them are east of the Saline River, with the western line running along the shore at Mill Pond Park.
For years, the city has known about capacity issues with the western trunk link. The west side of the city suffered sanitary sewer backups until work was completed in the late 90s. While that work has help up, the west belt is close to capacity.
The city was a little more surprised to learn that the eastern belt along Maple Road, about 1,000 feet north and south of Michigan Avenue, is also near capacity. That projection includes the two new developments going in across from the Saline District Library.
The central belt also shows some capacity issues, though Rubel cautioned more flow monitoring is needed there to “tighten up the model?”
The data is already being put to use. There have already been manhole repairs. As previously mentioned, findings will be incorporated into the city’s capital improvements plan. In addition, the computer models can help city planners determine how much developments will impact the city’s infrastructure.
For more on the study, click here.