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Grosse Pointe Farms

February 13, 2013

Farms agrees to provide irrigation water to Country Club of Detroit

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

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The Grosse Pointe Farms water treatment plant is expected to start providing water to irrigate the Country Club of Detroit’s grounds this spring, if the club’s board approves a new agreement.

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The closure of Highland Park’s water treatment plant — which had a shared water intake line into Lake St. Clair with Grosse Pointe Farms — is bringing some changes in water service for the Country Club of Detroit.

The Farms, which already supplied drinking water to the club, is expected to now also supply treated water for irrigation — a proposal that city officials say should be beneficial to both parties.

Under other business during a Feb. 4 City Council meeting, City Manager Shane Reeside presented the council with a proposed two-year agreement between the city and the CCD for the Farms to provide irrigation water and sewage services. The rate for water would be $11.7675 per 1,000 cubic feet, which Reeside said is the wholesale rate and the same as the rate the Farms charges Grosse Pointe City for treated water. The sewage rate would be $41.04 per 1,000 cubic feet for the first 50,000 cubic feet and $10.26 for additional units, which Reeside said is the residential sewage rate. In addition, because of the size of the meter needed at the club, he said the CCD would also be paying a bi-monthly bill of $919.50 for the non-residential meter.

For years, Highland Park provided the CCD with less expensive untreated lake water to irrigate its golf course, but the loss of that source of water finds the private club turning to the Farms for its outdoor irrigation needs. Tom Biehl, executive vice president of the Farms’ engineering firm of Hubbell, Roth and Clark, said the Farms has long provided the club with treated water for drinking and other uses.

After the club approached the city, Reeside said the city had its engineers do a hydraulic analysis to determine if the Farms’ water treatment plant could meet the additional demand.

“Mechanically … very little needs to be done (to our plant),” Reeside told the council. “We, in fact, can supply water to the Country Club of Detroit without it having an adverse effect on our residents.”

It’s also a way for the city to boost its water sales at a time when those have been declining among customers in the Farms and City. Because the majority of the Farms’ water production costs are fixed — involving everything from equipment to staffing at the historic water treatment plant — Reeside said having additional water sales is beneficial because it can help keep costs per unit down for everyone. And because the CCD will be irrigating its grounds during off-peak hours from 7 p.m.-7 a.m., Reeside said the club’s increased water usage wouldn’t negatively impact the plant’s ability to produce water for residents, who tend to use more water in the morning and after work.

“We feel, as an interim step, this could be a win-win for us to provide water to the Country Club of Detroit,” Reeside said.

The agreement is expected to net the city another $120,000 annually for the water and sewer fund, he said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the contract.

“I think it’s a great deal for them and a great deal for us,” Mayor James Farquhar said.

At press time, Reeside said the CCD’s board still had to approve the agreement before it would take effect. If the board signs the agreement, the city would start providing irrigation water this spring, Reeside said.

“They’ll have a reliable water source,” he said, noting that the Farms would likely be able to offer a better water flow to the club than Highland Park.

CCD did purchase irrigation water from the Farms at one point, Reeside said. He said the club would be incurring costs to make the water service possible — $10,000 for a new meter and another $10,000 for other work, including a piece of pipe that needs to be changed.

The city is also looking at potential storm water retention alternatives on club grounds to reduce the strain on the city’s sewage system during major storms, Reeside said. As City Council member Louis Theros pointed out, if the city moves forward with a possible new sewage separation project, the city would need to use some CCD property.

Such a project “could help us get substantial relief off of our storm water system,” Theros said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.