Q. Is the Authority considered a “municipality” on its own?
A. For most purposes, yes, however, it has no taxing powers nor ordinance powers, therefore, it is more applicable to deem the Authority as an “agent” for other municipalities.
Q. Does the Authority provide both public sewer and water?
A. The Authority provides public sewer service to its customers within the townships it services. The Authority also operates the public water in Yankee Springs Township Section 19.
Q. How does the Authority finance its operations?
A. As a public sewer enterprise fund, we have two sources of revenue, monthly (quarterly) User Service Charges, and new construction Capital Charges levied on new homes, businesses, etc. who are charged a Connection Fee or an Assessment
Q. Is the Authority audited?
A. The Authority is audited annually by independent auditors and the audit is submitted to the state as required by all municipalities.
Q. Where is the treatment plant for treating wastewater?
A. The Gun Lake Area Sewer & Water Authority treatment plant is located on the south side of Gun Lake – 12588 Marsh Rd., Shelbyville, MI 49344
Q. What is a Conventional Gravity Sewer? What are pump stations?
A. A Conventional Gravity Sewer system is a system of pipes and main-line pump stations that are installed at-grade, allowing most homes to connect their existing plumbing by gravity out to the street. Main-line pump stations are constructed where depth of sewer or terrain challenges prevent gravity from being installed and then, force mains or pressure mains carry pumped wastewater up and over the obstacles and terrain to a point where the wastewater is again discharged into a gravity collector sewer.
Q. Who is on the Board of Directors?
A. Each of the four townships appoint an elected official to sit on the Authority Board of Commissioners; however, each appointee sits at the pleasure of his/her respective Township Board.
Q. What is a Pressure Sewer? Grinder pump?
A. As compared to Conventional Gravity, a Pressure Sewer allows homes to connect via pumping from a collection point on their private property (fiberglass basin 2 foot diameter x 5 or 6 feet deep) into a sewer main installed in the street. The Authority’s systems are primarily gravity sewers with lift stations along the way.
Q. Is there mandatory connection in the sewer districts?
A. All structures with wastewater discharge within 200 feet of the sewer main must be connected.
Q. If I am connected by gravity from the house to the street, who takes care of the building sewer on my property?
A. The building sewer (usually 4” pipe) on private property is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain, repair or replace.
Q. If I am responsible for my own gravity building sewer, what is the purpose of the “inspection” and permit to connect?
A. The “inspection” is not a true inspection but rather, a visual verification that the home is connected and all drains are connected. We are prohibited by the State Plumbing code to regulate the excavation and installation of the building sewer as the State has ultimate jurisdiction, and the plumber or contractor that the homeowner has hired is assumed to be competent.
Q. Am I permitted, as a homeowner, to do my own installation of my building sewer?
A. Yes, however, we discourage unqualified homeowners to install their own, as any excavation over 4 feet deep is difficult and dangerous, even with proper equipment.
Q. What are Connection Fees?
A. Connection Fees are NOT what the homeowner pays their contractor to make the connection. Connection Fees are the charge to each home or business desiring connection to the system. When a property is assessed their proportionate share of the project, that property is usually deemed to have paid-in-full, and there are no additional connection fees. Connection Fees, direct or indirect, pay the proportionate share of capacity, trunk sewer, treatment and other costs resultant from Authority operations to provide and maintain sewer capacity for existing customers and new customers.
Q. In the design of a public sewer, how is the long-term use determined? Is there future capacity for new connections?
A. In any capital improvement project, it is difficult to predict how many users will connect over 50 years or more.
Q. Upon connection to either gravity or pressure, are residents required to discharge all household wastewater into the public sewers, including gray water from laundry washers and brine water from soft water tanks?
A. Yes. All wastewater from the home, including any and all structures emitting wastewater (including garages) is required to leave the premise via the public sewer system. However, Sump Pumps that handle groundwater are not permitted.
Q. Is storm water, eaves trough, or basement drains permitted to connect to the public sewer?
A. No, storm water, basement sumps or run-off of any nature is strictly prohibited.
Q. What is the monthly rate for service and how is it calculated?
A. The Authority has fixed costs and variable costs, and approximately 40% of our costs are fixed, meaning that we have expenses regardless of whether you are using your facilities or not. As most of our system customers do not have meters, it has been determined the most equitable method to bill individual customers is be to bill “flat rate” per unit, where one unit is a single family home, and is assumed to utilize 250 gal/day on average. The cost in 2017 for a single family home is $30.00 per month regardless of use. The cost in 2018 will increase to $31.00 per month. Commercial entities are either (i) metered to determine the average use, divided by 250 gal/day to determine units, then multiply the units by the current rate, or (ii) for unmetered commercial accounts, we calculate the number of “units” the business is worth based on historical data and multiply it times the rate. All customers pay the minimum of 1 unit.
Q. Why not put meters on all homes and use the meters to determine how much each homeowner should pay?
A. The cost of purchasing, installing, reading, maintaining and replacing meters on homes where no public water service exists would add an additional 15% to our base fixed costs, and therefore, would defeat the purpose of the meters, as everyone’s rate would need to be increased to cover the metering, reading, and service costs.
Q. Why do I have to pay the monthly rate if I am not home for a period of time (ie. it is a cottage and not being used all the time)?
A. As discussed above, it was determined the most equitable method is to charge each customer a flat rate per unit. Without water meters at each customer, we have no means of determining when the owners are present or when they are gone. Even if we had water meters, the fixed costs of the system would be billed regardless of use.
Q. If I didn't get the bill, why do I have to pay the late charge?
A. If we discover we did not send a bill, or we error-ed in sending the bill, we will void the late charge; however, if the mailing address is the last one of record and we sent the invoice with proper postage, we must make the assumption the invoice was delivered and therefore, a late fee must be charged and collected.
Q. Does the pressure grinder station electrical circuit require a separate junction box and control box on the home?
A. Yes. A dedicated circuit, 220 volt, 30 amp, with exterior breaker is required, as well as the Control Box supplied with the unit.
Q. What are potential/known difficulties or differences with pressure-grinder pump systems as compared to gravity sewers and how does the Authority propose to address these:
A. Power outages-overflow:
The Grinder Pump basin holds 35 gal/ft. and typically has 2 feet of working volume. When the power is out, most homes do not have electricity to their well either. However, if a homeowner continues to utilize water during a power outage, after 35-50 gallons, there is a danger in “backing” up your wastewater into the home. This is similar to a failed septic system when the wastewater has no place to go.
The pump units occasionally will fail to discharge wastewater due to foreign matter such as rags, fibrous towels, excessive grease build-up, condoms, plastics, or other materials plugging the vanes of the pump/grinder unit. These items are not to be discharged into the public sewer system in general and are considered deleterious to the wastewater transportation system. Should this occur, the high water light and buzzer will come on. At this point, it is important for the homeowner to discontinue use of water (including water softener discharge).
If the homeowner is responsible for discharging foreign substances into the basin, a cost-recovery action of the “violating” homeowner may be instigated.
The pumps are very durable and last 10-15 years, however, occasionally, the pump will “wear out” or the motor will fail.