St. Clair City Council to consider water hauler contract


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Jun 14, 2023

St. Clair City Council to consider water hauler contract

As summer heats up and water demands grow in the city of St. Clair, the city

As summer heats up and water demands grow in the city of St. Clair, the city council could consider a new water hauler contract as soon as June 19.

During a June 5 St. Clair City Council meeting, City Superintendent Quentin Bishop brought information to council regarding calls he has recently received about bulk water hauling fill ups of large tanks.

"June and July are our heaviest water usage months, and it has been dry here in the city," Bishop said.

He said City Treasurer Jessica Gilroy and Water Treatment Plant Lead Operator Thomas Fountain brought it to his attention that the city does not have a standing agreement with water haulers.

"Something that a small water hauler could sign on and agree to for long term," Bishop said. "I think that the water hauler that has been used — we have already the serve rate, we have a hook up rate. But in terms of any type of signed agreement on the books before somebody comes in and has a contract, it is a commercial arrangement as a vendor with the city, when it comes to water, we do not have that. And so I would like to create it. I would like to make sure that we have that, and people who want to sign up can sign up."

Bishop also said if the city agrees, the water hauler would agree to a certain rate and some city requirements, particularly on how water is measured.

"Especially with water when, when our residents pay for water, I just don't think it is good enough to have just a good old-fashioned honor system when it comes to filing up tanks to go do, you know private work," Bishop said. "I think that we need to tighten it up a little bit and clean up some contracts."

Although the council did not take a formal vote on the matter, some council members, such as Mayor Bill Cedar Jr., indicated that Bishop should pursue the matter. Bishop said he has been seeking input from the treasury, the department of public works and Fountain.

He also said the city is not running out of clean water and so the matter is not currently a major issue, but June and July tend to be drier months, and residents increase water use by watering lawns or filling pools.

Council member Erin Gottler requested information on the next steps, such as working with Fountain to develop reasonable and accurate methods regarding water hauler use. Bishop said he asked Fountain to use his Listserv with water treatment plant directors to ask about standing contracts, so that the city can examine something that has already been created.

Bishop said like residents, water haulers would pay per thousand.

On June 7, Bishop said the city currently works with water hauler Al Simmons, who draws water from a dedicated, metered hydrant. Simmons pays $5 per thousand gallons and $15.50 per hook up. The city council adopted changes to the water/sewer rates as of Oct. 1, 2022, with fees ranging from ready to serve 5/8 inches at $29.93 for water to ready to serve 4 inches for water at $501.08.

"In the last month or so we have had two additional water haulers call the city and say they would also like to draw water. It sparked my interest in make sure we get an agreement in place," Bishop said.

Also on June 7, Bishop said he planned to have a water hauling agreement ready to be placed on the council's June 19 agenda. In designing the agreement, factors such as average usage will be considered and conversations will be held with those in the water treatment plant to ensure water hauler operations do not impact to residents.

The agreement should also create a relationship between the city and the water vendor to let both know where each stands, what is expected from each and to ensure that vendors are fairly charged for water use, Bishop said. Usage and timing, city capacity to generate new water per day and maintaining public transparency will also be important.

"We more or less want to establish a vendor/city relationship that has some standard agreement," Bishop said.

Nicole Tuttle is a freelance reporter for The Voice.

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