Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Howard Lake to move forward with sump pump inspections
Feb. 21, 2011

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, MN – Howard Lake city engineer Barry Glienke presented the plan for inspecting sump pumps throughout the city to the city council at Tuesday’s meeting.

The inspections are part of an effort to reduce the inflow and infiltration (I and I) to the city’s sanitary sewer system.

It was apparent from public works director Tom Goepfert’s annual report, that Howard Lake has serious I and I problems, especially in the spring during snow melt and during heavy rains (see graph).

“We need to pay close attention to I and I,” said council member Pete Zimmerman. “It’s costing us money to treat rainwater.”

Inspecting sump pumps will be the first phase in trying to control the city’s I and I problems, Glienke said.

Once the sump pumps have been inspected and home owners have them installed properly, it will provide information to address other inflow causes for phase two.

Before inspections start, a review of wastewater treatment flow information, and the cost associated, will be conducted.

The information obtained in the review will be used in the development of the public education program to explain the costs associated with sump pump flows.

After the information has been obtained, a project workshop will take place, with key members of the project team and the city staff.

The workshop will give project members and city staff an opportunity to become familiar with each other, and exchange information and ideas regarding the inspections.

Items that will be presented at the workshop include: background information of available data, the city’s sump pump ordinance, review of the methods for inspecting the sump pumps, and the implementation schedule.

Following the workshop, there will be a public education campaign to disseminate information to the public, garnering their participation in the sump pump inspection program.

Once the public has been informed and educated on the necessity of the sump pump inspections, an inspection will be conducted of the sump pumps in approximately 600 to 700 homes and buildings.

If a homeowner fails the original sump pump inspection, the home will be reinspected to verify the sump pump has been properly disconnected from the city’s sanitary sewer system.

The estimated cost of the sump pump inspection program is $20,000.

Street and utility improvements

The sump pump inspections will be done in conjunction with street and utility improvements that will be taking place beginning this summer.

Glienke and his team are working to complete the design of the project, which will be presented at a public open house Thursday, March 10.

Comments from the open house will be taken into consideration, and project details will be presented to the city council at a workshop Tuesday, March 15.

Plans and specifications must be submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health by Tuesday, March 29.

The plans and specifications should be ready to present to the city council for approval by Tuesday, April 5, when bidding will open for the project.

Bids will be received Thursday, May 12, and will be awarded Tuesday, May 17 at the council meeting.

Construction is expected to start in early June, and end with laying the bituminous wear course in summer 2012.

Odds and ends

In other business, the city council:

• heard from city resident Steve Morrissette about a letter he received regarding snow removal from the sidewalk in front of his house.

Morrissette told the council the sidewalk comes to a dead end near his property and he did not think it was necessary to clear the snow to a dead- end.

If the council allows one person to not shovel his or her sidewalk because it comes to a dead end, then the next person down the street won’t do it either, and the sidewalk will become shorter and shorter, noted city administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp.

She also noted that as street improvements have been completed, some sidewalks have also been completed.

The council decided not to fine people this year for not clearing sidewalks. Over the summer, it will revisit the issue to better define the spaces the snow removal ordinance will pertain to.

Hinnenkamp also noted it is part of the park plan to update trails and sidewalks throughout the city.

• heard the municipal liquor store report as presented by Hinnenkamp.

The liquor store began the year positively, with a net profit of $5,028 for January.

A proposal was presented to the city council to purchase a Wii gaming system and a new large-screen TV for the liquor store as a way to attract more customers.

To offset the cost of the purchase, the liquor store would have five less karaoke nights in 2011, and would stop providing free pool and jukebox nights, Hinnenkamp said.

She also noted that karaoke could be done using the Wii, and the gaming system’s audio can be connected to the audio for the jukebox.

The council approved the purchase of a new TV and Wii gaming system for the liquor store.

• heard the monthly police department report as presented by police chief Tracy Vetruba.

Vetruba also presented a recommendation to hire two new police officers, contingent on them passing physical and mental examinations. The council approved the recommendations.

• approved the contract for MN Aquacare to treat the beach area of Lion’s Park for swimmer’s itch in early to mid-June. The cost of the treatment is $279.

• approved a gambling permit for the Howard Lake Good Neighbor Days committee.

• discussed an opportunity to hold a community conversation hosted by the League of Minnesota Cities. The conversation would center on the future of city services.

The council will take the opportunity into consideration and get back to Hinnenkamp about whether or not to pursue the it before the Feb. 25 application deadline.

• approved a trial to modify how apartment building owners are charged for sewer and water.

The city’s ordinance requires each unit be charged a base rate, however that does not account for vacancies within the apartment building.

Apartment building owner Jim Churchill requested the city review how those base rates are charged for apartment buildings.

Churchill provided the city with several months of water usage and how many apartments were rented each month so the city could calculate the average usage per apartment.

Using the average usage per apartment, the city will charge base rates for water and sewer by dividing out the total usage for the building for the month.

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