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Water And Sewer Committee Holds Long Closed Session

Issue Date: December 17, 2020

Peshtigo Water and Sewer Committee held another long closed session to confer with legal counsel on Thursday, Dec. 10, and then adjourned without taking action. While exact subject of the closed session was not specified, reason given on the agenda included: "Conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved."

The committee has been involved in months of negotiations with BPM Inc. over access for the proposed new river crossing for the main sewer line over paper mill property.

BPM Inc. General Manager Jim Koronkiewicz was present at the open portion of the meeting along with Kyle Maroszek of ISG, the firm that Koronkiewicz said advises BPM Inc. and BPM legal counsel on environmental issues. BPM management is working to develop an on-site wastewater treatment plant adjacent to the paper mill on East Front Street in the face of proposed steep price increases for disposal at the city owned utility. That rate hike is to be voted on by City Council following a 6:30 p.m. Public Hearing on Thursday, Dec. 17.

The Water and Sewer Committee meeting began at 8:30 a.m. and by 8:45 a.m. other business had been taken care of and the committee voted to go into a closed session that lasted until 10:20 a.m. Minutes state no actions were taken in closed session, and no action was recorded after open session resumed before adjournment.

Present for the closed session were Water and Sewer Committee members Fred Meintz, Dan Seymour and Chair Tom Gryzwa, along with Mayor Cathi Malke, City Attorney David Spangenberg, director of Public Works George Cowell and Consultant Taryn Nall of Ruekert-Mielke.

After leaving the meeting Koronkiewicz advised the Peshtigo Times that test borings for the BPM wastewater site were being done that day, and all the necessary permits are in place.

During the 15-minute open portion of its meeting the Water and Sewer Committee rejected a request from Beverly Doucette for sewer credit on a large bill for 330 Brown Ave., due to lack of evidence that water from the leak had not gone through the city sewer system. They agreed a letter should be sent to the owner to inform them of the decision and offer a deferred payment arrangement.

There was no update on the river crossing.

Cowell explained a proposal for cleaning of water plant filters, a task that Cowell said should be done every five years, but had not been done since 2007. Committee consensus after discussion was that the proposed offer seemed high, and since there are other companies that provide that service the job should be bid out, or at least other price quotes should be obtained. Cowell said he would do some research.

Cowell reported three city wells were tested. Commercial cross connection inspections are to be finished before the year ends. Residential cross connection tests have been on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cowell said extra hydrants were received to put in inventory, and parts were ordered for the clarifier at the wastewater treatment plant.

E-mails had again been sent to the Department of Natural Resources asking them to set parameters for field applications of bio solids and a lift of holds that have been placed on wastewater treatment plant operator licensing due to the coronavirus.

Cowell said he had also talked about these concerns with the local DNR field operator, ad she had promised him to bring it up.

All bio-solids are currently being stored at the city's wastewater treatment facility due to PFAS content and lack of DNR standards for application to farm fields and other sites.

Also, since the pandemic began, the DNR has put a hold on licensing for wastewater treatment plant operators. This creates a problem for Peshtigo, since they want to train and promote from within, rather than trying to bring in someone from outside the area. He said Peshtigo WWTP has one fully licensed operator and another who could be halfway there had the training not been suspended, and stressed that they need to have someone ready to step in if the need arises.

Gryzwa asked if the DNR was holding virtual classes and was told they are not, and also was told that the DNR had stopped testing for licensing.

"There's no rush when you get your pay anyway," Meintz commented.

Cowell reported sinkholes were repaired on the main interceptor line on the West side of the city and Lake Street; repairs are scheduled for Spruce Street, and manholes were marked in the alleys for snow plowing purposes.

The next Water and Sewer Committee meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12.


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