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Supervisor's viewpoint

DPW works hard to keep township working

January 23, 2013 - Have you ever wondered what those DPW guys are doing that drive around town in the white pick-up trucks with the Independence Township logo on the door? This is what I have experienced so far in my first six weeks on the job.

There are actually 13 Department of Public Works (DPW) employees who are on the road at any point in the day. These are the workers who are responsible for maintaining over 40 different facilities including wells, water towers, booster stations, sewage lift stations, pressure reduction valves as well as 120 miles of sanitary sewer mains and 118 miles of water mains all dedicated to make sure the water in your residence is flowing and the toilets are flushing.

A few examples of your tax dollars at work.

There are 11 Sewer Lift Stations in Independence that collect raw sewage from upstream households and businesses. When the Lift Station holding tanks reach a pre-determined level, giant pumps turn on and force the waste uphill so it can begin its next trek downstream to the main sewage interceptors.

The guys in the white trucks ensure the Lift Station main pumps run smoothly, check and make sure the back-up generators are operational and perform routine maintenance that ensures maximum life expectancy for the millions of dollars worth of investment in these stations.

There are also 16 wells that extract millions of gallons of water per day from the aquifers running under Independence Township. Specially trained DPW Technicians are constantly taking water readings and checking the filtration and chlorination systems to ensure the water in Independence exceeds federal and state standards.

It's these same DPW guys that are charged with maintaining the big blue water storage tanks in the community, the water they hold and even changing the red emergency lights on the top of the towers-some reaching over 140 feet into the air. These gravity fed water towers help provide pressure consistency and balance the flow of water based on demand and time of day.

You will also find DPW employees and their white trucks at new construction sites around the community. These guys tap into the water main and connect the house to the community water system. Taking about 3-4 hours each, 81 water tap-ins have been completed in 2012.

Lastly, there are always DPW guys on-call in the evenings and holidays. When an alarm at one of the substations goes off or a call is received about a water problem, the on-call technician rushes off to diagnose and rectify the problem.

So that is how a big part of your water and sewer tax dollars are spent. The township has been doing a good job to keep these operational expenses flat over the years. The tough part in managing the Sewer budgets are the annual fee increases coming from Detroit and the new Oakland/Macomb Interceptor construction projects. It is not uncommon for these fee increases to vary from 3-4% up to 10-12% per year with little or no warning. (More on these in another article)

Next time you see one of these white trucks parked at a job site, remember they're the guys checking to make sure the stuff we take for granted, our water and sewage systems, are operating at top efficiency. Give the guys a friendly wave. They deserve it.

Call Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle at 248-625-5111 ext. 244

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