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Fenton Water Could Improve With Better Source

Consultant proposes two-part plan to locate, test possible areas of softer water.

The possibility of finding Fenton a better-quality water source has been tossed around for several years, and city council could decide to pay to explore it. Fenton’s wells meet quantity demands for water, said Stephen Guy, water plant supervisor. An issue is the hardness of Fenton’s water, which makes it more expensive to treat, Guy said.

A better quality water to start with in the treatment process should result in a better quality end product and a minor reduction in treatment costs, Guy said. In addition, better quality water would mean less sludge production and lower sludge removal costs at the plant.

And better water quality would be a risk aversion tool for future cost spikes for sodium hydroxide, the chemical the city uses to treat its hard water, he said. The chemical costs $1.55 per gallon now, but it once tripled to $4.50 per gallon when ethanol plants started using a lot of it and increased demand.

At the request of city administrators, AMEC-BCI Engineers & Scientists, Inc. (AMEC), of Brighton, proposes a not-to-exceed cost of $10,970 for the first part of a two-step process. Task 1 includes the initial well screening process, to locate the best potential well site to meet Fenton’s goal, said Mark Sweatman, Michigan regional manager for AMEC.

There is a small well at in Fenton where water hardness is very low, which could have potential. It’s behind the restrooms and other buildings at the park, Guy said.

AMEC would examine resources Fenton already has, coming up with three possible sites in the city for drilling holes and finding out what the water quality is, Sweatman said. Another factor is getting the water from a new location to the city’s water plant. AMEC would work with Guy and other city staff regarding the location of infrastructure Fenton has in place.

The second part of AMEC’s work, depending on how deeply council wants to investigate, could cost $20,000 to $500,000. The upper end of the scale for Task 2 includes well drilling, which can cost $200,000 to $500,000, depending on how deep it goes — 200 feet, 400 feet or 600 feet, for example, Sweatman said.

At the end of Task 1, council can set clear criteria for where it wants to end Task 2, he said. In addition, Fenton officials would need to make decisions along the way, about whether to continue the search for higher-quality water, not continue it or embark on a better way to do it.

Water is very important in Michigan, he said. It costs $1.50 for a small bottle of water, which compares closely with the price of a gallon of gasoline.

Guy said, compared to other areas, Fenton’s water has a high level of hardness. Fenton’s water is 530 for hardness, while Holly’s level is 360 and Howell’s is 300. Even after treatment, Fenton water has a higher level of noncarbonate hardness (60 to 75 parts per million) than water from these other communities (60 noncarbonate hardness for Holly's water, and 0 for Howell's).

Councilman Les Bland said he doesn’t have a problem with the proposal, and he’d like to see the question answered if Fenton can afford it. The qality of Fenton’s water isn’t the treatment plant’s fault, Bland said. It’s the water that the city is pumping into the plant from the ground.

His concern is spending $10,000 to $40,000 and still coming up empty-handed. City officials need to make sure Fenton can afford it.

On the question of Fenton tapping into a new water plant being built near Swartz Creek, City Manager Lynn Markland said Fenton would still owe the debt on its own water plant.

Regarding the amount of city water bills, Councilwoman Pat Lockwood suggested an investigation of monthly, rather than quarterly, billing. Most people budget for a month at a time, Lockwood said. In addition, she believes Fenton needs to remove its quarterly recycling fee of $13.50 from the water bills, to lower the amount on the water bill.

Mayor Sue Osborn suggested a separate bill for recycling.

Bland said water bills include charges for water, sewer and recycling, not just water.

Council asked the city manager for more information and discussed having a rate study performed.

Jason Alexander (Editor) December 06, 2011 at 02:15 PM
What do you think of Fenton's water? Quality? Cost?
Bob December 06, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Most anyone can take the quarterly bills that they recieved in the past divide by three and get a close estimate of future monthly amounts that should be put away for that future payment. Just because the bills are sent out by the quarter, payments will be taken and generate a credit balance at the city. No one has to wait for the bill to come before making a payment. Removing the recycle charge from this bill will only increase the billing cost for the city, thus raising the amount for recycle. (More postage and personal to handle extra work.)
Sean Rosekrans December 07, 2011 at 02:29 PM
For what we pay we should get gold out of our taps. Our water bills are outrageous compared to other cities.
stephanie pytlowanyj December 07, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Not adding fluoride to the water would save money too. Do you realize we are one of the few countries in the world to still have this antiquated practice? I did a research project on this over a year ago but try talking to Mr. Guy at the water plant; he is one of the rudest people--right up there with former city employee K Labelle.
stephanie pytlowanyj December 07, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Since the inception of the "new" water plant the water tastes terrible. I have to buy bottled water to drink in my home. I also won't drink Fenton water at any restaurant in town. As everyone knows the cost of water went up to pay for the new water plant, and kept going up..initially because the cost of chemicals was miscalculated, then cleaning the sludge earlier then thought, etc.
stephanie pytlowanyj December 07, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Regarding Pat Lockwood's idea about doing an investigation regarding the billing, why spend money on an investigation? The council was voted in to make decisions not to keep spending money by doing study after study. Further, as Bob stated the residents can figure out approximately what their monthly rate is by doing some math. Residents then have to budget accordingly. I have lived in Fenton since 1992 and I approximately know what my water bill will run in the summer and then in the winter. Regarding monthly billing it will just increase costs and give the gals in the water department more to do. Or maybe that's the point, to fool residents into thinking monthly billing is the answer while adding on fee's for extra printing of bills, postage, manpower hour's. I say no to monthly billing. By the way, I am on a fixed income and am paid monthly.
Sean Rosekrans December 07, 2011 at 09:05 PM
I don't care how they bill us a $190 water bill is nuts.
Sean Rosekrans December 07, 2011 at 09:06 PM
How about an investigation on why our rates are so high?
JLORDH February 12, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I have lived in many parts of the country. Fenton has the HIGHEST rates by far. It is pure and simple robbery how high the rates are there. Even if you snowbird, the bill is still astronomical even if you do not use a single drop. I suggest to keep the water bill on a three month cycle and not send a seperate bill for recycling (also an insanse amount of money) because the employee at the water department can't even answer the phone as it is.
stephanie pytlowanyj February 12, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The new water plant has been costly in many ways. Though Mr. Guy of the water plant denies it the water from the new plant raises havoc with the pipes in older homes, and my plummer agrees. I had to replace all the water lines in my basement, do repairs in the laundry room, etc.,
Sean Rosekrans February 12, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I had a $700 water bill last quarter. I have gone through four water heaters and had to have the line from the street replaced. You have the gall to tell me our water is good!
stephanie pytlowanyj February 12, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Holy Cows, $700 water bill. I'd call a plummer to see about a leak. Fenton water is like liquid gold.
Sean Rosekrans February 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM
No leak. We have a sprinkler system and a small Mother in Law house on the grounds. Even with that it is still nuts.
stephanie pytlowanyj February 12, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Assuming your sprinkler system is outdoors, it's not being used and if it's an indoor one it's not used unless there's a fire, so it's a safe bet it's not being used either. My house is about 2400 sq feet. It's just me and my daughter and we pay about $200 a quarter. I feel for you.
Sean Rosekrans February 12, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Outdoor. The $700 was the end of the season bill. We have two meters one for the houses and one for the sprinkler.

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