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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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BPM Inc, City At Odds Over WWTP Charges

Issue Date: January 23, 2019

At the Peshtigo Water and Sewer Committee meeting in December, BPM Inc General Manager Jim Koronkiewicz offered to work with the city on ways to reduce the firm's water and sewer costs. He also said if the mill's requests are not in effect by April 1, and if they are unable to reach a satisfactory path going forward, "BPM will be inclined to start the permitting process for construction of a private wastewater facility" that could include use of the old pulp mill property on the Peshtigo River for equipment, buildings and aeration basins.

In a letter to the committee and in his verbal presentation, Koronkiewicz had said if that happens, Peshtigo residents will see dramatic increases increases in their costs associated with wastewater treatment.

At the Water and Sewer Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Koronkiewicz expressed extreme displeasure at the way they have handled the BPM offer. The proposal was not on the agenda for the committee. Committee Chair Tom Gryzwa said his comments could be made under the agenda heading, "such other matters."

He was told that the Water and Sewer Committee has a rate structure study in progress, and City Engineer George Cowell and committee members indicated that study is on-going and will continue.

In an interview after the January 15 meeting, Koronkiewicz said the committee had hired Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. to do the rate structure study as a result of the Dec. 18 meeting.

He further said a letter to BPM from Taryn Nall, Ruekert & Mielke's project manager for the study, had asked for all of BPM Inc's information, and told the committee he will send a letter to them declining to do that.

He added that BPM has provided an operator in charge for the Wastewater treatment Pant since February of 2018, when the city lost its licensed WWTP operator, and he is terminating that assistance to the city effective Thursday, Feb. 28.

"Our proposal was all or nothing, and has nothing to do with reduced flow" Koronkiewicz told the committee. "So far everything we've done to reduce our costs by reducing BODs and suspended solids has resulted in a rate increase....We're not going down that path again!"

The letter to Koronkiewicz from Nall stated: "The City of Peshtigo has retained Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. to assist them in reviewing the sewer rate structure/methodology and updating their Sewer User Charge System (UCS). Please provide us the following information to ensure we are properly addressing existing and future discharge conditions for BPM:

ŕ. What are BPM's plans for future flows and loadings for continued full treatment at the city's WWTP? If the flows and loadings in 2017-2018 are representative of future loadings, please inform us that is the case. If you expect different flows and loadings in the future for the total treatment option, please provide us average annual, maximum month, and maximum day loadings for flow, BOD, and suspended solids.

Ŗ. If you are considering pretreatment of BPM wastewater, please provide us your projected wastewater characteristics for average annual, maximum month, and maximum day loadings for flow, BOD5, and suspended solids.

ŗ. An electronic file or paper copy of the preliminary study you have completed for your wastewater treatment planning.

Ř. An electronic file or paper copy of the design study report completed by BPM.

ř. An electronic file or paper copy of the consultant's review of the City sewer rate structure.

"Thank you for providing the above information and any other information you feel is pertinent in helping us prepare an accurate and complete Sewer UCS Update. Please contact me if you have any questions," the letter concluded.

After the Jan. 15 committee meeting Koronkiewicz composed a response to that letter, and a separate letter to Water and Sewer Committee Chair Tom Gryzwa, and agreed to share copies with the Peshtigo Times to keep the public informed.

To Nall he wrote: "I have received your letter dated Jan. 11, 2019 requesting information regarding BPM's future plans for wastewater treatment.

"In BPM's letter to the City of Peshtigo dated Dec. 11, 2018 a request was made to investigate a lower cost to BPM for it's share of the WWTP expenses. It was based on current flows, TSS and BOD loadings, and treatment activities. Nowhere was anything stated about partial treatment. This was based on all flow as is or no flow at all. BPM understands that if changes were made to these items we would be involved in rate reviews.

"Additionally no consideration is being given to partial treatment because of our experience with the City of Peshtigo over the past five years. Regardless of reductions made to flow and loadings our costs continue to rise to cover the increasing operating expenses at the Wastewater Treatment facility that have now exceeded $1,000,000 per year. Koronkiewicz clarified that the $1 million refers to total operating costs of the facility.

"BPM Inc. will not provide the study information requested in your final three questions. This is BPM Inc. owned material and is not subject to public review. The preliminary study was completed to provide a potential direction to us. This information was shared at a Water and Sewer Committee meeting in 2019. We have not completed a design study. BPM is trying to avoid additional costs and that was taken into account in our request for a reduction.

"The current City sewer rate structure was provided to our contractor in development potential paths for BPM Inc. wastewater treatment. There was no review.

"I have shared this information with the members of the City of Peshtigo Water & Sewer at a meeting held Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall," Koronkiewicz wrote, and concluded, "Please contact me if you have any questions."

In the Jan. 15 letter to Gryzwa Koronkiewicz wrote: "Following up on discussions today at the Water and Sewer Committee meeting. BPM Inc will terminate the Operator in Charge services provided by Mr. Gary Motkowski effective February 28, 2019.

"A letter responding to the information requests from Ruekert-Mielke (Mr. Taryn Nall) has been sent clarifying BPM's position," he wrote, and concluded, "BPM Inc awaits a response to our request in letter dated Dec. 11, 2018."

In that Dec. 11 letter to the committee Koronkiewicz had written: "BPM inc. has been investigating the increasing costs associated with Water and Sewer Services provided by the City of Peshtigo.Several proposals have been reviewed and cost analyses done. In an effort to work with the City of Peshtigo on utilization of the existing Water Treatment facility and reducing our costs to insure future stability and growth BPM requests the following:

"*18% reduction of quarterly fixed charge to Class C customers ($63,608.02 to $52,158.58)

"*10% reduction in fees for volume flow, Bod and TSS"

That reduction for flow would be from $.224 to $.202 per 1,000; for BOD from $.324 to $.292 per pound, and for TSS from $.10 to $.09 per pound, with the rates guaranteed for three years.

The letter went on to state that in an effort to help offset these cost reductions BPM offers to provide operator in charge services for three years at no charge, and to provide assistance with electrical and mechanical maintenance coordinated through the operator in charge, city engineer and plant operators.

The letter went on to explain that he requests ned to take effect beginning April 1, the start of the second quarter, and then continued, "If unable to reach a satisfactory path going forward BPM will be inclined to start the permitting process for construction of a private Waste Water Treatment facility."

It went on to describe how the effluent pipes could be connected to the possible new facility, and concluded, "BPM Inc believes this entire proposal to be in the best interest of the Company and residents of the City of Peshtigo. Should BPM construct its own facility the City residents would see dramatic increases in their costs associated with wastewater treatment."

The next Water and Sewer Committee meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

In more ordinary business at the Jan. 15 meeting, Cowell had advised the committee that the WDNR has created another class of operators and additional training will be needed for licensing. That request was to be referred to the personnel committee.

On the water side of the utility, some pumps had failed and would be repaired during the week.

The 10 to 11 year-old chlorine pumps on all three wells are deteriorating and will be replaced.

On the wastewater side, they had some vials of mercury to dispose of, and the operator did a good job of researching ways to do that. The most inexpensive solution was to take them to the Brown County hazardous waste site,where the cost would be $99, approximately one tenth of the cost at a commercial hazardous waste site, which had quoted a price over $900. He said the mercury was from some old electric switches at the wastewater treatment plant.

On Thursday, Jan. 17 the power company was to replace some lines, and power to several residences would be out for several hours. He said they have a generator at the station and as a backup would have a portable electric pump on standby.


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