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Patterson on DWSD: 'No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal'

Oakland County explores possible alternatives to the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department system.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson remained resolute on the issues surrounding the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department in his 20th State of the County speech.

“I have two of my top negotiators… representing the interests of Oakland County taxpayers at the table,” Patterson said Wednesday evening at the Centerpoint Marriot in Pontiac. “My directive to them from the beginning was incredibly simple given the complexity of the challenge. I laid down one rule: ‘Remember, no deal is better than a bad deal.’”

Patterson also said that he has instructed Chief Deputy County Executive Gerald Poisson and Deputy County Executive Robert Daddow to explore possible alternatives to the DWSD system.

“There are alternatives and we will be examining them. But unfortunately there is no overnight cure,” Patterson said.

The possible alternatives outlined by Patterson in his speech include:

  • New or expanded package treatment facilities that Oakland County could construct in different parts of the county to handle sewage issues
  • Drilling more wells for drinking water
  • Instead of sending billions to help DWSD come into compliance with EPA standards, using those billions to build a separate water and sewer authority

No matter what the outcome with DWSD, Patterson warned rates will go up as much as double.

“It’s nearly $6 billion debt and its hundreds of millions of dollars or perhaps even in the billions in deferred maintenance dwarfs the challenges the region faced with the Cobo Hall and the DIA issues,” Patterson said. “The system is suffering from decades of neglect and will require billions in maintenance and EPA-conforming upgrades.”

Patterson acknowledged Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash for his role in the DWSD negotiations.

“He has been a true partner with my administration in the ongoing negotiations with DWSD. Though we come from opposite political parties, Jim’s support for protecting our ratepayers has been unwavering,” Patterson said.

Source: Oakland County

Erin February 14, 2014 at 08:42 AM
Marty - all excellent points! Believe me, the residents have not forgotten about water issues. Please keep commenting - we all count on folks like you to stay engaged and informed. Come to City Council meetings and speak up - next one is March 3.
Bloomfield1876 February 14, 2014 at 09:26 AM
In Brooks we Trust.....
Scott February 14, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Marty, Water mains are usually run under or beside roads that the government already owns. I don't think much eminent domain would be needed, and the need for water is a very compelling case that would not withstand a court challenge. One possibility would be to hook into Karegnondi for water and do our own treatment locally. Brooks has a great point that if we can build our own system from scratch at a lesser cost of fixing the neglected system, then no deal is better than a bad deal.
Sue February 14, 2014 at 01:51 PM
While eminent domain may be a cost of setting up an independent Oakland County system, it would not tie up moving forward with building a system since under Michigan law property for a public purpose can be taken for that public purpose if a price can not be negotiated and settled later in court. Iron, arsenic? Yes they are prevalent in some parts of the county but can be filtered out at a treatment plant. Surface water sources like Detroit have to deal with those issues on a daily basis but those issues with surface water can change on a daily basis when contaminants are washed into the water or dumped into the water. Chlorine is needed in a pretty heavy dose to treat a surface source of water. There was a glacial source of water that is very deep and untapped below Oakland County and a developer deeded some land over that very large source of water to Oakland county about 10 years ago. Lastly, there is no such thing as cooperating with DSDW. DSDW has been 81% overstaffed according to the new director and when she took a plan to the Detroit City Council to reduce staff by not filling positions when someone left or retired, the Detroit City Council said 'no'. Under the emergency manager, they have now announced a reduction of 600 positions which still lives the system overstaffed. Why is it overstaffed? Probably for political reasons. So, don't let a lot of red herrings get in the way of what is best for the long term viability of Oakland County. In fact, many of the western communities in Oakland County are being put into the Pontiac sewerage treatment plant. That's a done deal.
Scot Beaton February 14, 2014 at 03:53 PM
Marty - Brooks Patterson brings up good points... unfortunately he is about 25 years behind the eight ball. The City of Rochester Hills infrastructure is contained within a 32 square mile footprint consisting of: 256 miles of major and local roadways, 320 miles of sanitary sewer, 420 miles of water main, 88 miles of pathway. We are 100% responsible for 99.9% of our water sewer maintenance infrastructure... and this infrastructure belongs to the residents of Rochester Hills not the Detroit Water Sewer Department. What we pay for is a commodity called water that comes from a pipe that stretches all the way out into Saginaw Bay and the discharge of our Sewer flows most in a gigantic pipe that follows the same course as the Clinton River. So we pay DWSD for water and the the discharge of our Sewer... they use those dollars to maintain their entire system which includes the thousand of miles of water and sewer mains within the city limits of Detroit. So why are we dumb enough to sign into this contract year after year... well we have no choice; we have no other way to hook up to water and get rid of our sewage. We also have no vote or say in the day to day operations of the DWSD.
Scot Beaton February 14, 2014 at 04:00 PM
Marty - During the Rochester Hills building boom years... when I was a Council Member... yours and mine 30 year mortgages have payed for this multi-million dollar infrastructure... built with pipes that will have a 99+ year life span. When I left City Council there was a $78 million fund balance to maintain and improve the system. BUT unfortunately past council members like Ravi Yalamanchi and current Mayor's like Bryan K. Barnett have lied and misled the residents of Rochester Hills... piss away this fund balance instead of passing on DWSD cost increases to the residents of the city, and has now left us dangerously short to maintain the system with only about $12 million fund balance!
Scot Beaton February 14, 2014 at 04:00 PM
Marty - Should we continue to pay DWSD for water... well for now we have no choice and no money to go independent of other financially irresponsible government entities. Marty the best LOL I've heard as of late is Ravi Yalamanchi is forming an exploratory committee to run for Mayor next year. My guess the residents will have a great choice going from bad to worse... Marty love your post and the other posts on this blog... please all keep posting.
Erin February 14, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Scot - great info on the details. However, gotta disagree on who's to blame for flushing away our W+S fund balance. Ex-Dir of Public Services, Roger Rousse, failed to negotiate the City's water contract (total water usage) for TEN years, 1999-2009 - under the auspices of Barnett - who was on Council, then Mayor. Ravi was the one who pushed them to finally negotiate and push for watering ordinances - which has worked to save the City money and stabilize prices (for now). And Ravi and Rosen were the only ones sticking with the residents to say there was no business case for spending $18 million on 2 water reservoirs.
Scot Beaton February 14, 2014 at 05:40 PM
Erin- you are a lot smarter than this response... the details are in the voting records of these past council members. Spend some time and go back are read the minutes of past council decisions. Ravi new full well he was voting as a council member to spend down the water sewer balance instead of raising rates for years... hence he piss away the fund balance. He is also not the water reservoir champion you and others peg him out to be. Again... go back and read the minutes he voted yes twice to study and build water tanks in our city over $80,000 of wasted of dollars. It was only when myself and a mob of angry voters showed up at city hall did he finally change his mind. Remember this is the same guy that wasted no time making the motion in support a year back granting the Mayor a 25+% car allowance increase (Rosen the only NO vote). Obviously he has had Mayor aspirations and the perks that go with that job for a long time. “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” ― Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Marty Rosalik February 14, 2014 at 08:44 PM
Scot B. Thank you for answering my unasked question. Who owns the network of pipes. My mortgage was paid off in 12 years and none went into that infrastructure. I'm totally on my own out here north of Gunn. Sue Ann, you are responding like a politician not a forward thinking problem solver. Unlike most of the posters here, I have buried miles of pressurized water mains from 6-to-48 inches in inside diameter. Some of them in Rochester Hills. When I tell you going on your own will be very difficult and very expensive, I'm not making things up. I doubt your tax payers will have the stomach for what it will finally cost. That Pontiac treatment plant is Up-Hill, good luck. So who's back yard will get the new downstream plant? The topography of the municipality determines the best place for a sewer plant, NOT politicians! Rochester Hills won't allow water storage tanks let alone a smell emitting sewage plant. These are not red-herrings. These are engineering and logistical hurdles. Nothing more. And if eminent domain were such an easy thing to do... why is Adams road not multi lanes at the Clinton river? I'll tell you. Large expensive homes with resident that have the ability to tie things up in court just like the decades to get 696 built. The residents will lose but they won't go down without a fight. The current density of development will drive the largest portion of cost and slow the progress the most. So while many endorse the "analysis paralysis" the DWSD system deteriorates. The clock is ticking no matter what you do.
Marty Rosalik February 14, 2014 at 09:40 PM
BTW Scot B. When they were installing that interceptor sewer as kids we used to go down to the south end of Christian Hills where I lived to the Clinton river easement and we would un-bolt the man hole covers and go down to explore. We could cross under the river all year in a 50 degree concrete cave. We could go all the way from Crooks to Livernois under ground. Then one day we opened it up and EWWWWW. It was quite a long time from installation to completion. City water came through Christian Hills shortly thereafter and with great timing. The de-watering to install that 48 inch pipe dried up many private wells including ours. Ours was only about 50 feet deep. Not deep by today's standards. Dad rented a trencher from C&C Rental and I installed a 1" copper line out to Bretton Drive. I also know that the Clinton interceptor is close to or slightly over design capacity because many municipalities west of RH that use it still have some storm drains running into it. I had several conversations with a Ann Arbor DEQ sewer engineer regarding an Oakland Township development and the sewer districts where I live. Yes I have played in, installed, and even done calculus regarding sewer pipes. Disconnecting from that interceptor and rerouting with the topography of RH or OT will be a challenge. My septic field is 950 feet above sea level. And "IT" flows down hill. My well is nowhere near any of those old dumping sites like near Hamlin and Adams or the old 5 Star land fill. Where is that "deeded" land from some developer Sue Ann speaks of? South side of Hamlin halfway between Adams and Crooks? North side of Hamlin just east of John R? How about south side of Dutton just east of M-24 where the Silver Bell ski area was before it became a dump? Anybody else here ever slide down that ski hill? Growing up here playing in the new construction sites taught me literally where all the "stuff" is buried.
Scot Beaton February 14, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Marty- thanks for all the history. :) When I was on Council they let the willing tour some of the water/sewer installations. North/East corner Adams and South Blvd. about 30 feet down there is quite a large concrete vault where one of the DWSD water mains enters the city, quite a large pipe... you can almost feel the vibration of the water passing through it. The joke of the day was the Guys at the DPS the day before had to take down all the Playboy Centerfolds... My guess... this vault was quite the gallery... LOL
Marty Rosalik February 14, 2014 at 10:17 PM
Sounds like the main meter pit where the water goes from one municipality to another. Most likely 24" or better ductile iron pipe. And yes they "throb" as the water flows through them. I worked in the hole and was told to never let a stone or rock rest on the pipe. They said that over time a rock against the pipe in the fill would wear a hole in it because they vibrate with flow.
Scott February 15, 2014 at 08:14 AM
Scot and Marty, fascinating conversation. Do any of you happen to know of a public forum for Rochester Hills residents to talk about the city, politics, etc? I used to live in Warren and they have WarrenForum.net, Detroit has DetroitYes.com, but I haven't been able to find anything for Rochester Hills.
Scot Beaton February 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Scott- Great idea... no we don't... wish we did. :( BUT our current mayor spends city cable franchise fees on surveys... LOL and according to these carefully worded surveys 99% of the residents that live in Rochester Hills are so thrilled were they live, they would live nowhere else not even on Mars. Please excuse my sarcasm. More about the survey on the city website... and with that kind of LOVE for a community why would we need a public forum... everything is hunky dory just the way it is now! Again please excuse my sarcasm. Scott thanks for you posts... the Patch is all we got.
Erin February 15, 2014 at 05:22 PM
Scot –you know I always enjoy and appreciate your input. Again, going to have to push back on issue of Ravi. If you are going to hold a public official to 100% purity test on every single vote, you’ll necessarily despise every single official. You can nail anyone on a vote here and there, but I believe most folks are happy with a high percentage of votes they agree with over the entire time serving. Political reality: as a politician there’s what you’d like to do vs. what is possible, what’s doable, given the circumstance. Unsavory as it may seem, that is the reality of politics sometimes you have to go along to get along, pick your battles to fight another day. You’re a “call ‘em as I see ‘em” guy – so my guess is that when you were on Council you said how you felt and voted that way. But you also had the luxury to do so – you were on a Council of a completely different makeup (save for a very young Barnett) as well as a different Mayor. You enjoyed a variety of views on Council, and you knew you’d usually garner at least some support for your view. That definitely makes it easier to “do the right thing”. Ravi was on a Council that was almost entirely made up of “The Right Team” of “like-minded individuals” –(Mayor and candidates’ words, not mine – from campaign literature and interviews in lead up to 2011 election). Decision making teams such as this tend to ask the same questions and come up with the same conclusions. In my book – that leads to bad public policy and not a lot of transparency. Additionally, it makes it difficult to be the one (or two) odd men out who is always in the position of asking the hard questions, and having to vote “No.”
Scott February 15, 2014 at 06:00 PM
I just moved to Rochester Hills back in August and thus far I've been very impressed on the surface with city services. I also like what I've seen of Barnett so far too. I haven't had a chance to dig in too much past the surface. Also, I moved from Warren, and they mayor their is certifiable, narcissistic lunatic. Rochester Hills vs. South End of Warren is a huge difference. We feel safe in our neighborhood now. There are so many outdoor things to do. Thelma Spencer Park is within biking distance of my house. Bloomer Park and Rochester Park are a short drive. City services are efficiently delivered. The relationship with the county sheriff seems to work real well. The city is saving money by not pretending to be a trash company. The roads in my mid-1970's neighborhood are in very good condition. I don't want to sound like a Barnett fanboy, and please fully recognize that I haven't had a chance to start digging deep yet like I did back in Warren.
Erin February 15, 2014 at 07:15 PM
Scott - welcome to the neighborhood! Warren to Rochester Hills, yeah, big difference. I too enjoy living in Rochester Hills - especially all the Parks and Green Space. RE: "The city is saving money by not pretending to be a trash company." Well, it's uncertain how much we're "saving" since this last contract was a no-bid contract with the hugely powerful #2 hauler nationwide. This no-bid contract was covered in all local news outlets, including criticism from the editorial board of The Detroit News. How do you compare savings when you're not taking bids? Also, contract was signed shortly after a donation to the Mayor's PAC (see Oakland Press article). Just as a rule, I don't like no-bid public contracts. City of Rochester just saved a lot by signing with Rizzo Waste, the Michigan based company that wanted to offer same to Rochester Hills. Also, in late 2012, just months after a grassroots passage of the 2011 Parks Charter Amendment that mandates a vote by the people if changes to Parks are proposed, the City signed leases for oil exploration in some of our Parks – not only without putting it on a ballot for a vote, but without calling a public hearing. It was passed with minimal due diligence during a regular City Council meeting. A little over a year later, as more residents and subdivisions were being approached by “landmen” ( sales people from the oil company) looking to obtain mineral leases for their little 1/3 acre lots – residents began waking up to the reality of what had transpired and have begun demanding information from the City. Still no public hearing scheduled. However, under pressure, the City just posted some information on the City’s home page a few days ago. It’s horribly incomplete, especially for such a complicated issue and contract. Residents are working on getting the City to post ALL of the City's public documents pertaining to the oil lease. I'm guessing when you moved here you didn't know that Rochester Hills was looking to be one of the first high density residential areas in Michigan signed up for oil drilling using "enhanced oil recovery" techniques. So, I guess I should add – welcome to local politics! Stay tuned – and I’ll let you know if I hear of any websites with a local forum.
Scot Beaton February 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Erin - I absolutely love typing with you in the Patch... unfortunately no one reads the Patch... laugh out loud... also I don't know why I continue to waste time and ink on Ravi... I did hear a rumor that he was exploring a run for Rochester Hills mayor next year... He's only worth about 1,800 votes, so he will never win... but if he has the time to waste from his loving family and job that is his choosing. My advice would tell Ravi keep doing what he does best running his nonprofit in Flint Michigan helping poor people. "To combat community blight and deterioration in greater Flint Metropolitan area by helping to maintain, improve and increase the supply of affordable housing to lower income residents of the area through educational activities and such financing programs." A quote from his website. Erin because about 90% of this nonprofit comes from government revenue sources (not the private sector) Ravi has done a wonderful job of keeping his revenue and expenses totally transparent... I give him tons of credit for that. Looks like he was able to collect a total of $4,872,275... in revenue (2013)... federal funds alone looks like about $3,423,849 ... from government agencies like Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)... and it looks like the difference comes for state revenue sources like MSHDA - Emergency Shelter Grant $367,827 etc. And according to the IRS statements looks like he pays himself about $97,900 plus $2,805 plus benefits. His nonprofit spent (payroll taxes and fringe benefits 2013) $143,322. Erin you can buy you some pretty sweet healthcare with that kind of revenue. Oh there are those FOX NEWS type critics out there that love to throw a bureaucratic like Ravi under the bus. I can hear them now 'Ravi is a Democrat that loves to spread the wealth around' or 'I wonder if Mother Teresa paid herself over six figures in federal dollars to help poor people.' Once this kind of stuff hits the streets in 80% conservative Tea Party... Republican Party Rochester Hills... well... Ravi is toast. Especially against Republican Party golden boy... current Mayor Bryan K. Barnett, or who ever he chooses to finance and endorse. Erin unfortunately the Mayoral seat in Rochester Hills because of term limitations has become nothing more than a play ground for the Republican Party. Enough of Ravi lets both move on... I fixed a few typos ... spelling one of my weaker subjects... please forgive. :)
Scot Beaton February 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Erin - YES I do hold every public official to 100% purity test... this is why I despise most elected officials voting records. At the local level when you vote YES to run the building and planning department in the red, and when the economy crashes you layoff cops instead I despise your vote. When you vote YES year after year for a capital improvement plan that turns Tienken into a five lane highway... then change your tune when an angry mob of residents show up... you are fiscally irresponsible. City Council sets the policy for our City all the Road Commission for Oakland County was doing was following Council orders. They spent $100,000+ of precious road dollars on engineering... all to get thrown into a trash can because Ravi and his rezoning Walmart building City Council friends throughout Mine and My City Council friends NO FIVE LANE ROAD RESOLUTION! When you only represent a district on the north side of the tracks and vote YES to rezone single family residential property on the south side of the tracks into apartment complexes because they can't vote for you THAT IS JUST WRONG! When you ignore the Historic District Commission and vote YES to tear down a beautiful historic home on South Boulevard... that says you don't give a crap about our community heritage, and you don't give a crap towards the hard work of the Historic District Commission, and you don't give a crap about those who want to preserve the quality of life in that area. Then in the same breath you vote YES to rezone this single family residential property so the land developer can build a mental care facility... that says you don't give a crap about home values... I feel sorry those home owners if they ever want to sell their home when the realtor asks what are those big building in your backyard and you have to tell them it's a funny farm. When you vote YES twice two $40.000+ studies to build water reservoirs you obviously supported at the time to spend the money and build them... When you know ahead of time plans to build a three story 150 feet in diameter concrete tank right next to someone's home on John R... and if you were so against building water reservoirs...? and you did not take the personal time to inform them of this project before it came up on City Council than your nothing more than a hypocrite. Erin - YES I do hold every public official to 100% purity test... when I represented the residents of Rochester Hills on City Council and served as their City Council President I had a 99.9% perfect voting record protecting the quality of life and fiscal responsibility of the City of Rochester Hills, and I hold accountable all current and future Mayors and Council Representatives to those same exact standards! I fixed a few typos ... spelling one of my weaker subjects... please forgive. :)
Scot Beaton February 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Scott -I will also not join the anti hydraulic fracturing only drill in Texas... local residential drilling hysteria bandwagon either... we have been talking about drilling in public parks for years as a revenue source. We explored drilling for natural gas in Borden Park no luck. The City's approach again is all wrong... we need to hold intelligent public hearings and let the entire city vote on this first before we dig the first well... that may throw out the not in my backyard group down the well. ...laugh out loud... :)
Erin February 16, 2014 at 04:29 PM
Scot [+ Scott] – I agree! I wouldn’t join any “anti-hydraulic fracturing, drill only in Texas” hysteria either. Scot, I’m concerned you are painting all the residents in the area who have concerns with the same broad brush. Clearly, you don’t’ have a good understanding of the locals involved and their concerns. Personally, I think domestic energy is key to US economy. However, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be common sense limitations, transparency in the process, laws and regulations that reflect current conditions, Home Rule powers for municipalities, as well as a just and equitable balance between State interest and personal property rights. NIMBY? Not most I’ve talked to – if the City can present a balanced and detailed business case– PRIOR to approving proposals - myself and others - are all ears. My impression - the largest portion of locals are quite moderate, were justifiably angered by being caught unawares by the City’s plans, - and are pretty much true to form for the Oakland County demo –with broader concerns being lack of adequate and timely PUBLIC INFORMATION, likely charter violation per 2011 Charter amendment, lack of adequate DUE DILIGENCE, BUSINESS CASE and CONTRACT NEGOTIATION. I think we all appreciate that the City looks for additional revenue streams. All most folks ask is that the highlighted items above occur PRIOR to signing complicated contracts on our behalf. Hysteria? Sounds more like expecting a reasonable level of transparency and fulfilling their [the City’s] fiduciary duties.
Erin February 16, 2014 at 04:31 PM
Scot [+ Scott] “We have been talking about drilling in public parks for years as a revenue source” –Again, I agree! However, the last discussion was in 2005 - you and that City Council properly called a public hearing and completed adequate due diligence.[Thank you] Another difference - in 2005, they did not have the advanced technology they do today – enhanced oil recovery techniques in COMBINATION WITH horizontal drilling. Thus, it was too cost-prohibitive for drillers to move forward back in 2005. This raises the issue that these techniques used IN COMBINATION are indeed a RECENT development, as such experts as Hal Fitch (from MI DEQ) has testified. Recent means new, which raised yet another issue during 2012 discussions - the lack of Jordan’s drilling experience in HIGH DENSITY RESIDENTIAL + K-12 school areas. They didn’t have any analogous sites to offer as evidence – large open lands, parking lots, commercial and industrial zones are not the same as densely packed subs. So, do Rochester Hills residents really want to be guinea pigs for Michigan in this regard? Why not have a public hearing and public vote? Why not allow residents the time to find out exactly the effects of leasing mineral rights on their mortgage, title insurance, and homeowners insurance; and the City time to provide an adequate business case with cost/benefit analysis including possible lower revenues from potential depression of property values, likely higher insurance costs for City properties after wells are capped and drillers pull their bonds, etc. Sounds like residents are asking that the City follow basic best business practices, a minimal effort to expect. Also, we have about 73K residents, thus, there are a lot of voices from many viewpoints. Please don’t turn minority comments into any type of excuse or distraction from the City’s stunning failures in handling the Jordan contract. So too, don’t provide an excuse for any resident to think they don’t need to be informed beyond whatever the City deems is sufficient for us to know. The City has lost a ton of credibility by keeping this hugely impactful issue on a “need to know” basis for residents; coughing up a minimum of information only AFTER a public uproar. Gee, why does this all seem like a long run of déjà vu with this administration? As always, I truly appreciate the discourse here.
Scot Beaton February 16, 2014 at 07:15 PM
Erin - When you drag your 10 year old kid into City Hall ... and ahead of time scare the bejesus out of them... and then make them say into the microphone it's OK to drill if it's in Texas or Oklahoma that is prenatal hysteria! The fracking debate reminds me of the silicone breast implant debate depends on who's science you want to believe... silicone was out for awhile now it's back in... looks great on strippers... besides half this country still does not believe in Darwin. Erin - I do 100% agree the City's approach has again been all wrong... we need to hold intelligent public hearings and let the entire city vote on this first before we dig the first well... we need to comply with the new park charter amendment.
robertzucker1 February 17, 2014 at 07:24 AM
Mr. Patterson is our very capable leader. What he says in regard to the water needs of Oakland County should be supported by all Oakland County residents regardless of party affiliation. However, it is my view that we should not sit down to negotiate with the Detroit Water people until such time as we have done the engineering studies to the point that we have firm cost figures for the alternatives. We do not need chlorination when ozone treatment is preferable. We do not need lead piping. We need to consider how safe our water supply is from terrorist attack and how the effluent is treated for re-use. Certainly a Poisson appointment sounds like a good start for a water project.
Scott February 17, 2014 at 03:40 PM
Mr. Zucker, you stated "Mr. Patterson is our very capable leader. What he says in regard to the water needs of Oakland County should be supported by all Oakland County residents regardless of party affiliation.". I'm not sure if that was sarcasm or seriousness, but it seemed serious. All of our politicians, whether it be Mayor Barnett, Executive Paterson, Governor Snyder, or President Obama all deserve to be looked at critical and should not receive unquestioned support. These are our elected leaders. We need to provide them with guidance as to what the citizens do and do not want. Sometimes we may not agree with them. I often disagree with a person but still end up voting for them, because I don't know anyone that agrees with all of my political views.
Scott February 17, 2014 at 03:48 PM
Erin and Mr. Beaton, thanks for the discussion and information, I appreciate it. It was mentioned about a water tank on John R road, do you know exactly where that was proposed? I'd love to see us put something like this into place, that would allow us to get more favorable rates from DWSD. I would have concerns over its placement, and could see how it would not be compatible with a residential neighborhood.
Erin February 17, 2014 at 08:53 PM
Scott - careful, water reservoirs are no panacea. They are quite expensive to build and utility of reservoirs is very community specific with many factors such as debt service and maintenance needing to be taken into account. The water rate structure is also rather complicated. Peak hour is key, and can be effected by reservoirs, however, Rochester Hills has been able to save by moving peak hour through essentially cost-free ordinances. http://rochester.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/on-peak-day-in-rochester-hills-we-used-xxxx-bathtubs-of-water Also, significant issues can arise such as huge and unexpected electrical upgrade costs (Grosse Pointe Farms) and mechanical problems. See Northville - it was walloped with a 23% RATE INCREASE in 2013 - a valve that controls when a water tower was filled was malfunctioning, causing it to draw large amounts of water during peak hours, said City Administrator Patrick Sullivan. "We exceeded our peak flow on our peak day," Sullivan said. "If you're exceeding your per hour limit, you get socked." Additionally, Sullivan said the City Council had to quickly approve a $16,000 contract to replace the value and make other upgrades." Again, that is all before debt service and regular maintenance and security costs. Also, it's the Rochester Hills Water + Sewer Committee who ultimately determines your rates, and decides whether OR NOT to pass along any savings to the residents. In the past they have sometimes decided to build up the City's W+S fund balance back up with any savings rather than pass it onto us. On top of that throw in a possibly new Regional authority, and who knows what happens? Lots of uncertainty...
Scott February 17, 2014 at 09:27 PM
Thanks Erin, I've only heard of a success story so far, I haven't heard any issues like the ones you described. I do agree that right now would NOT be the time to pursue it, we need the uncertainty gone first.
Erin February 17, 2014 at 09:53 PM
Scott - almost forgot March 2013 - Livonia water reservoir - one MILLION gallon leak. This one operated by DWSD, so Livonia didn't get the extra million galls on their bill. It was on mine, and yours. They spread the cost of that water across all of their customers. http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/21796346/leaking-water-storage-tanks-flooding-grounds-in-livonia

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