ISHPEMING - Meeting independently recently, the Ishpeming and Negaunee city councils both unanimously approved an amendment to the easement agreement between the two cities to allow the Negaunee wastewater transmission line to cross through the city of Ishpeming.
The amended agreement allows the Negaunee line to tap into a 30-inch manhole that carries wastewater from Ishpeming and Ishpeming Township into the Ishpeming Area Joint Wastewater Treatment facility, which will allow Negaunee to avoid having to dig a separate line underneath Carp Creek to reach the plant.
The two councils had been struggling over language in one section of the easement agreement concerning what would happen - and who should pay for the damage - if a backup occurred.
"This has been a debated topic. Our council and Ishpeming's council had some opposing views and opinions, as did our engineers. So we worked diligently with our neighbors and we have come to an agreement which we feel is amenable to both communities to protect Ishpeming and protect Negaunee," Negaunee City Manager Jeff Thornton said.
The Ishpeming council approved the agreement at a special meeting Thursday. The Negaunee council approved the agreement at its regular meeting Thursday.
The agreement is pending the approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is one of Negaunee's funding sources for the transmission line project.
The new section of the agreement states that if a backup occurs, and the flow from Negaunee is found to have caused all or part of the backup, responsibility for the damages will be distributed based on the percentage of flow each municipality was contributing to the manhole.
Although backups are not anticipated with flow into the manhole, the new language in the amended agreement covers what would happen if a backup occurs.
In addition, the Negaunee council also approved amendments to its agreement with the wastewater authority, which brings the agreement in line with USDA requirements without changing the substance of the agreement.
Also to address concerns from Ishpeming as to how the authority would be alerted to a potential problem at the manhole, authority director Deb Pellow said the plant has implemented an alarm system to show if the flow into the plant drops below a certain level, signifying a problem at the manhole.
Finalizing the easement agreement amendment also approved the final route for the transmission line through the city of Ishpeming.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.