Salem water, wastewater plants trimmed costs in 2013

SALEM – Both the water plant and wastewater plant operations spent less in 2013 than the year before, earning praise for the plant managers from Salem Utilities Commission Chairman Bob Hodgson.

“We appreciate what you guys do, that’s good stewardship,” he said during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Jeff Zimmerman is the manager for the wastewater treatment plant located on Pennsylvania Avenue and Larry Sebrell is the manager for the water plant located near the reservoir on Gamble Road.

According to the final figures, Hodgson said the water plant was $192,000 under with $1.5 million in expenses. The wastewater plant was $105,000 under with nearly $3 million in expenses.

The commission meeting began with a re-organization for 2014, with Hodgson re-elected as chairman and newest member Tim Weingart chosen as vice chairman. Meetings will still be held on the second Tuesday of each month, but Hodgson said they’re thinking about changing the time because they all work and having the meetings at 3 p.m. makes it difficult.

The next meeting will be held Feb. 11, with the time to be announced. One of the big items on the agenda will be the awarding of the annual supply contracts for equipment used by the department, such as pipes, valves and chemicals. Bids for the supplies will be opened Jan. 31.

In an update on the wastewater treatment plant Phase I improvements, Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart said the contractor still hasn’t begun any work at the site, but should be able to finish by the Aug. 5 deadline for completion. The start date for the contract was Aug. 5, 2013, but the contractor wanted to wait until all the equipment was in place and all the necessary parts ordered before bringing workers on site.

If the Aug. 5, 2014 deadline is missed, the contractor will have to pay hefty fines.

Hodgson asked about the proposed hotel development on the east end of the city and what part the utilities department will play, with Don Weingart explaining the developer is aware of the location of the water and sanitary sewer.

He said the development can connect to existing facilities, but an easement will be requested for sanitary sewer to the west to allow for future development in the area.