Park enters into long-term sewage contract

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 2, 2013

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Saying that it’s a fair agreement for the Park, the City Council unanimously voted June 24 in favor of entering into a 30-year contract with Detroit and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department for sewage services.

The agreement has nothing to do with clean water — which the Park also presently purchases from DWSD — nor does it have any impact on possible Park plans to build a water plant to deliver fresh water to Park residents, City Manager Dale Krajniak said.

He said the DWSD serves “the vast majority of communities” in southeastern Michigan when it comes to sewage services, and most of those communities have already approved the contract.

“I find it to be very well-written,” Krajniak said of the contract. “It represents (the interests of) Grosse Pointe Park and Detroit. It’s uniform.”

It also protects what City Council member Daniel Clark said has been the longstanding and “more generous (sewage flow) cap” of 84 cubic feet per second, an agreement that reflects Detroit’s historical use of Fox Creek for overflows. Detroit no longer dumps sewage overflows into the creek, following a lawsuit settled roughly a decade ago over that issue, Krajniak said.

The city manager concurred with Clark that the 84 cfs limit “is very unusual. And they’re maintaining that on our behalf” in this new deal. The amount is higher than the average storm capacity, Krajniak said.

It’s not known exactly how long the Park has received sewer service from DWSD, but Krajniak said the last contract between the two was signed circa 1940.

“This is a model contract,” City Attorney Dennis Levasseur said. “Detroit is not going to entertain (major deviations from it).”

However, he said they are discussing easements and a few other issues specific to the Park with DWSD.

“There are no other sewer providers in the area (that we could switch to) … nor do we expect one (to crop up),” Krajniak told the council.

Although the contract doesn’t establish a sewage rate over the 30-year term, it does establish a formula that would be applied to all of the communities evenly, Krajniak said. The contract calls for rates that “shall be reasonable in relation to the costs incurred by DWSD” for its services.

“This contract provides for a uniform-rate formula,” Krajniak said.

The contract is expected to take effect as soon as final details are hammered out between the city’s legal counsel and DWSD. It would automatically renew after the first 30 years for 10-year terms. If the Park or any other community was planning to use another provider in the future, the community would need to notify DWSD of these plans no later than the end of the 25th year of the 30-year contract cycle, or no later than the fifth year of a 10-year renewal cycle. Both parties could also agree, in writing, to longer terms.

If there are any significant changes from the agreement, Krajniak said the DWSD needs to go back and discuss those with the more-than 20 communities that have approved the current contract.