Two Harbors water meter installation plan unfoldsThe city’s mission to install the water meters could be accomplished in the next few months.
The city’s mission to install the water meters could be accomplished in the next few months. Two representatives from the Two Harbors Gas, Water, and Sewer Department and city administrator Lee Klein presented a preliminary plan of water meter distribution to the public utilities committee Tuesday.
Previously, there had been discussion about sectionalizing the town and bidding out the work or just having contractors doing the work, but an alternative has been suggested. “In a small town like this, people have a real interest in being able to utilize their own plumber if possible as opposed to having the city mandate who’s going to go into their house and do the work,” Klein said.
Instead, according to Klein, the property owner would select a plumber, install the water meter, and then invoice the city. The city would pay the contractor directly. Any plumber that is licensed, bonded, and insured in the state of Minnesota would be eligible to do the work.
A representative from the city gas, water, and sewer department went to three local plumbers to get an idea of how much an installation would cost. The estimate for an easy, uncomplicated installation was reported to be around $200 to $300. The city is providing one free water meter to every single-family home. According to gas, water and sewer superintendent Scott Johnson, the home owner would buy other parts necessary for the installation and would be reimbursed the cost of those parts if the entire cost of the installation process including labor and those parts is under $300. The city would foot the entire bill.
But if the bill is from $300 to $600, the plumber must submit the work to the city for approval and if approved, then the city will pay the tab. If the work is over $600, the city will ask another plumber to estimate the cost of the work and parts and have both plumbers bid on the work. If a single-family residence has multiple water meters and is up to code, the city would then decide on a case-by-case basis on whether or not to supply them with more than one free water meter.
Johnson said that pending city attorney review and city council approval, this plan could be implemented in two to three months.
Concerns over mercury levels in the water have taken hold. MSA representative Pete Weidman told the public utilities committee that they needed to start seriously thinking about ways to meet the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s regulation on how much mercury can be in the discharge water from the sewage treatment plant. Weidman showed the committee a planning schedule for funding in order to pay for the construction costs for a new filtration system.
Weidman suggested pilot testing using the sand filtration method. According to waste water treatment plant superintendent Sven Bergerson, if the results look promising then the city might consider installing the new filters. While Bergerson declined to speculate on how much that would cost exactly, he said that he thinks it would be expensive. “We’re going to set it up on a small scale and direct a portion of our flow through testing and see how well it operates,” he said.
MSA representatives estimated the cost of the pilot testing process to be about $30,000. Pending city council approval, the testing could start by the middle of January 2012. If the city does not meet the October 2013 deadline on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s regulation, it could face potential punitive damages.