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Ishpeming wastewater option would mean savings for Negaunee

October 27, 2010
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau

Editor's Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the Negaunee wastewater bond referendum that will be on the ballot on Nov. 2.

NEGAUNEE - When deciding the future of the city of Negaunee's wastewater operations, the Negaunee City Council developed three alternatives for moving forward. The council decided moving the city's wastewater to the Ishpeming Area Joint Wastewater Treatment Authority was the most cost effective.

The first option was a comprehensive rehabilitation of Negaunee's own plant, giving it a reliable lifespan of about 20 years and allowing the city to retain ownership of its own plant. The second option, a partial rehabilitation of the plant, would give unknown reliability. Becoming a customer of the Ishpeming area plant would eliminate the need for Negaunee to operate its own plant.

According to information taken from a series of studies on Negaunee's wastewater plant and compiled by the city's ad hoc wastewater committee, which met in August and September, a complete renovation of the Negaunee facility would require $6.6 million, with an anticipated expense of $125,000 per year in capital outlay and $643,219 in operation and maintenance per year for continued use of the plant, as well as $110,700 in utility costs.

That option would also mean an anticipated increase to customers' monthly sewer base rate from $21.26 to $50.19.

A partial rehabilitation would require a $3.5 million investment, with the same amount of capital outlay, operation and maintenance and utility costs as the full renovation. That partial renovation would mean monthly base rates of $43.05 for customers.

The city has already spent $2 million on the Ishpeming option to help prepare the plant to accept Negaunee's additional flow. Under the agreement, Negaunee is also required to contribute $42,900 per year into both the sinking fund and capital outlay fund for future upkeep of the plant, which is 33 percent of the sinking and capital costs at the Ishpeming plant, based on Negaunee's percentage of the total flow.

Becoming a customer of the Ishpeming plant would also reduce the city's wastewater fund utility payments to about $20,000 and its operation and maintenance costs to $260,227.

As a customer of the Ishpeming plant, Negaunee residents would see an increase of $6.42 to their monthly base rate, putting it at $27.68, up from $21.26.

Besides the reduction in operation and maintenance from not operating the Negaunee plant, the city would also see savings through the reduction of four employees currently working at the Negaunee plant.

By going with the Ishpeming option, Negaunee would realize a savings of $336,541 in annual sewer fund operating and maintenance costs than if it went with either option to renovate its own plant.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is



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