Board agrees to wastewater capacity sale

Kirk Page

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Township board at its regular meeting Tuesday approved the sale of 1 percent of township-owned wastewater treatment plant capacity to Chocolay Township.

Chocolay Township requested 2 percent additional capacity in order to accommodate wastewater flows from the proposed expansion of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Ojibwa II Casino complex in late 2018.

The Marquette Area Wastewater Treatment Advisory Board in June unanimously approved the sale of 2 percent at the request of Chocolay Township, with the capacity increase to be split evenly between the city of Marquette and Marquette Township.

Prior to the Chocolay Township request, the city of Marquette owned 85 percent of the Marquette Area Wastewater Treatment Facility capacity, or an average of 3.273 million gallons per day; Marquette Township owned 10 percent, or 385,000 gallons per day; and Chocolay Township owned 5 percent, or an average of 193,000 gallons per day, according to a MAWF report.

At their Aug. 1 meeting, Marquette Township board members had expressed concerns that giving up wastewater capacity could impede commercial expansion in the township and requested more information from township Superintendent of Public Works Kirk Page.

Board members specifically wanted information about how much wastewater capacity the township is using now, and a projected capacity need for the next 10 years.

The proposed capacity sale to Chocolay represents 37,500 gallons per day, Page said.

“If we did sell 1 percent to Chocolay, we would still have 109,000 gallons per day,” Page said. “If you add in the potential 10 years development. We would still have 28.4 percent capacity for future growth.”

Treasurer Ernest Johnson, the only board member to vote against the sale, said he was concerned that commercial growth in the township might be underestimated.

“I just don’t want to short ourselves,” Johnson said. “I actually think that a lot more is going to go on here that we can foresee, and I have a great concern that if we do this now, are we going to come back in another six to 10 years and start looking for another percent. I just think there’s other things coming that we don’t even know about, and we won’t know about until they walk in the door at that point in time.”

Trustee Dave Weigand said seeing the township’s current usage and the potential usage over the next 10 years helped solidify his decision to support the capacity sale.

“This doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would when I ran the numbers,” Wiegand said, “When you add in the anticipated growth, which is 41,000 (gallons per day), that means at the end of 10 years from today we are going to have a gallons-per-day (total) of 297,000 based on that projected growth. That’s 81 percent of that total capacity — if we make the sale.”

In addition to the one-time revenue to the township sewer fund, Wiegand said, the sale would result in a savings of approximately $15,000 per year in fixed demand costs with the MAWTF, which are apportioned between the municipalities based on ownership.

“What’s more interesting is the 27 years at $15,000 per year, that adds up to $405,000,” Wiegand said. “You add that to the $56,000 and we can save $461,000 out of the budget, which seems a little more noteworthy than $15,000 per year or a one-time influx of $56,000.”

The interlocal agreement between the three municipalities is not expected to be executed until late in 2018, when the proposed KBIC facility would start to consume wastewater capacity.

The board also approved a $15,644.86 bid from Fahrner Asphalt Sealers to crack-fill and patch several township roads.

The affected roads include: Brookton Road, Commerce Drive to South Vandenboom Road; Fair Avenue, Ontario Avenue to Marquette city limits; Werner Street, Commerce Drive to Ontario Avenue; and Northwoods Drive, U.S. 41 to Brickyard Road.

The board also announced a public hearing of the planning commission regarding access management, tiny homes and short-term rentals.

The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Marquette Township Community Center.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.