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Judging the nitty gritty of wastewater flow

Inter-city billing dispute may have a solution


Electric City's public works director, Ken Dexter, cleans out the flume at North Dam Park where the city's wastewater enters the Grand Coulee pipeline. The two cities are still trying to come to some agreement on the billing related to a huge "spike" in the amount of wastewater that entered the system from Electric City last October. - Roger S. Lucas photo

Sometimes those closest to a problem are best suited to find the solution.

This may be the case in an Electric City/Grand Coulee wastewater bill conflict.

An apparent plug in the line last October showed that Electric City had twice the amount of sewage flow as normal, some 105,500 gallons compared to the normal flow of 63,000 gallons.

This caused Electric City's bill for the month to be some $5,000 above normal.

The two cities have been bouncing the problem between their city councils for several months, but there could be a solution forming on getting the matter settled. Neither city has yet to get their attorneys involved in the dispute.

Grand Coulee Public Works Director Dennis Francis, after talking with wastewater manager Gary Abbott, is offering their council a revised billing, using normal flows to take an average.

The agreement between the two cities on the operation of the wastewater plant, jointly owned by the two cities, states: "In the event of meter malfunctioning the wastewater treatment operator shall estimate the sewage flow in order to determine the applicable wastewater treatment and disposal charges."

The effort by Francis and Abbott has not yet been taken up by the Grand Coulee council. But Francis ran it by Electric City Public Works Director Ken Dexter, who said last week that "all we want is a fair solution." He appeared to be interested in what he saw.

The Electric City flow is determined by an overhead meter that measures how high above from its base the flow of wastewater runs underneath it.

But a settlement of sand in the flume causes the waste flow to be higher, Dexter said, suggesting that the flow is greater than it actually is.

Now, Dexter and his crew go to the station at North Dam Park every Friday and clean the flume so any settlement doesn't cause the meter reading to be higher than it should.

Grand Coulee also now cleans the flume on a regular basis.

Francis said, "We are neighbors and we shouldn't have these disputes."

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