MIAMI – Most of Miami's infrastructure, the basic system needed for the city to function, is 50 to 70 years old and in need of repair or replacement, according to Olsson Associates Sean McConnaughey.

At this week’s Miami Special Utility Authority meeting, McConnaughey went over the "Utility Infrastructure Study and Plan Recommendation" completed by his firm as requested by the City of Miami. Olsson’s study took a look at public drinking water, sanitary sewer collection, stormwater collection, and electrical generation, transmission and distribution.

Miami City Manager Dean Kruithof said the infrastructure study was a companion study to the Street Study completed and presented to the Miami City Council and MSUA on Nov. 1

“I have joked about having the defibrillator here handy,” Kruithof said before the presentation began. “…I’ve asked Sean to talk about our way forward after he’s presented these challenges.”

The news was daunting. McConnaughey told the MSUA members to complete the work needed would take an unreachable $240 million. A much more realistic annual repair and replacement systematic plan was then suggested with a total annual budget of approximately $2.5 million.

Using data available from city plat records and GIS data, Olsson reported Miami has 131 miles of water line, 96 miles of sanitary sewer line, 20 miles of stormwater collection liens and 144 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines.

Public Drinking Water

The study showed Miami's existing drinking water system is comprised of approximately 130 miles of cast iron and PVC distribution lines, nine active wells, four elevated towers and two ground storage tanks with a combined estimated storage capacity of 3.3 million gallons. Approximately 60 percent of the city’s distribution system is cast iron pipe. Many of these lines have been in service for 50 to 70 years and are likely overdue for attention to reach a desired service life of 100 years. 27 percent of the pipes have a diameter less than six inches, indicating probable areas of concern for providing adequate fire protection flows.

McConnaughey said of the 12 Miami water wells, “Wells number 2 and 10 have been capped and abandoned in place. Well number 9, located on Veterans Boulevard by the old BF Goodrich plant, is in place but is disconnected from the system. This well should be evaluated and either connected back into the system for standby use and capacity, or abandoned if condition warrant, because right now it’s a source contamination to your ground water being open like that. The MSUA has not conducted any repairs or maintenance on Well number 4 or Well number 8 in the last 25 years.”

Councilman Doug Weston asked if the water had been tested and was told it has not been to the best of knowledge and the depth was not known.

The city’s six water storage facilities and storage tanks that have a capacity to hold a total storage of 3.3 million gallons of water are currently under a maintenance agreement with a bio-wash conducted every two years, according to McConnaughey.

Miami currently has 4,892 residential meters, 704 commercial meters and 52 municipal meters

“Now the city has recently began a replacement program on these meters, at a rate of 20 per month, or 4 percent annually. Which, at this rate, all meters should be replaced within 25 years, which falls within the expected service life of a water meter.”

Sanitary Sewer System

The Sanitary Sewer collection system is made up of approximately 95 miles of gravity line with an estimated 1,820 manholes, approximately five miles of force main and seven lift stations.

Approximately 10 percent of the gravity sewer is made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC); the remainder is Vitrified Clay Pipe (VCP). Approximately 60 percent of the force mains are constructed of PVC with the remainder being cast or ductile iron.

Similar to the water system many of the VCP gravity sewers have been in service for 50 to 70 years or longer and are likely overdue for prioritized attention to reach the desired 100-year service life and plan for renewal, according to McConnaughey

“Two of the pumps have not received service in 10 to 125 years,” he said. “The North Miami system pumps into yours. The way I understand this, there is a lift station out there that pumps into your system, but it is not maintained by the MSUA, but looking at the date we got this stuff is being counted as coming from your system…This isn’t really your system, it’s North Miami’s.”

McConnaughey recommended reviewing any agreement regarding this service.

Stormwater Collection

Information for the stormwater collection system is not as well recorded and mapping is more limited than with the other utilities, according to McConnaughey.

Based on the GIS data, basically digitized plat maps, and asset inventory, there is approximately 20 miles of stormwater pipe with around 400 inlets and 95 manholes. During discussions with the Department, the piping system is in fair condition and is currently maintained by city forces. During the street assessment, it was noted that most of the stormwater inlet grates and frames are damaged or missing.

Electrical Generation, Transmission & Distribution

Miami’s electric grid is made up of approximately 132 miles of overhead conductor with an estimated 2,300 poles; around 11 miles of direct bury underground line and three substations.

“Substations have not undergone any major improvements for 25 to 30 years,” McConnaughey said.

Recommendation

“All this stuff’s buried and we have no idea what’s down there,” McConnaughey said, making a complete and accurate study impossible to complete.

With that in mind, McConnaughey presented a proposal for consideration by the MSUA.

“That 240 is a huge number so we’re going to back off and go with this one percent replacement, and because there’s no good record of where things are buried and where stuff’s at we’re going to recommend a comprehensive assessment...We would first recommend that the city set aside enough of the current utility budget to replace one percent annually of water, sewer and storm utilities,” McConnaughey said. “Four percent annually should be set aside for the electric system. These percentages are based on a 100-year and 25-year service life. A significant portion of the utility budget should then be utilized to develop a comprehensive assessment and inventory for each system. This should include comprehensive mapping/surveying, condition assessment, testing, modeling and integration of asset information into an updated GIS system. It is recommended that 20 percent of each system be assessed each year in order to complete the entire system review within five years.”

McConnaughey gave specific budget numbers to consider of proposed annual repair and replacement budgets of $1,310,000 for Public Drinking Water, $1,240,000 for the Sanitary Sewer System, $210,000 for the Stormwater System, and $930,00 for Electrical Generation, Transmission and Distribution.

The total annual repair/replacement budget should be approximately $2.5 million. The annual assessment budget based on a 20 percent annual assessment should be approximately $1.2 million. Additional budget items such as pumps, motors, substations, etc., are approximately $10.6 million.

There are some items included in Olsson Associates' plan that are not an annual expense, but funds would need to be reserved in order to cover their costs. These types of items include pump/motor replacement, substation improvements/expansion.

The projects would need to be planned out in conjunction with street improvements to avoid any need to take out repaired or replace roadways to get to utilities, avoiding further unnecessary costs. Street and utility priorities will be implemented in project planning.

The proposed budget does not consider personnel or equipment costs and many variables that could be used to reduce construction costs such as by utilizing city forces.

“Our plan here is to be laying out what our issues are, then we’re going to be coming back to you on a very specific plan on how we accomplish these things, which includes our utility rates,” Kruithof said.

Kruithof told the MSUA he would like to get started as soon as possible in the next few weeks to be able to go out for bid on projects in the winter months and start this spring and summer.

“We finally have a guideline of what we need to do,” Kruithof said.

“I’d say this is as comprehensive thing that I’ve seen in a long time,” Miami’s Mayor Rudy Schultz said. “We can’t do it all but we have to prioritize where we start and that's what this is helping us do.”

In other business, the MSUA approved a work order with Olsson Engineering for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality permit for a new waterline for C Street SW from 2nd Avenue SW to West Central Avenue.

Another work order was approved with Olsson Engineering for the design of a new traffic signal on Main Street and Steve Owns Boulevard. The project is 80/20 match funded with the majority funded by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation through state and federal grants.

The City of Miami will be responsible for $22,000 of the project’s cost. According to Tyler Cline, the next steps are to approve the plan and bid out the project.

Following the MSUA meeting, the Miami City Council meeting took up several issues.

The ninth, and final, draft of the proposed City Charter changes was presented by City Attorney Ben Loring. Once reviewed and approved by the council by Jan. 20, the issue will be put before voters for approval in April of 2017. The goal is to update, clarify language and bring the Charter more in line with state law.

A discussion took place regarding an ordinance proposal as an extension of previous billing programs for implementing a program to charge non-Miami Special Utility Authority (MSUA) customer mitigation rates for emergency and non-emergency services by the Miami Fire Department.

A change by ordinance to utility deposit requirements applied to commercial and industrial accounts now allows these type of account customers to provide three letters of good standing from three sources in lieu of the deposit with the discretion of the city manager. Currently deposits of two months average service are refunded after a year of consistent timely utility service payment.

Although the issue came to light in discussion with the Red Onion restaurant coming soon to downtown Miami, Kruithof said the change was not one made for any specific business but in effort to incentivize and support new business.

“I have asked Kristi (McClain) and Steve Gilbert to take a look at our ordinances and how business friendly we are,” Kruithof said.

Freeing up substantial capital funds, in the thousands, for businesses or manufacturers locating in Miami will help support business, create new jobs and tax revenue in turn.

“Basically doing something like this is to become much more business friendly, telling people we want you to come into Miami. We want you to make and investment, but, yet also we want to make sure they’re a business in good standing that when we take that risk, won’t leave us with a large utility charge if they don’t pay their bill,” Kruithof said.

Two separate consent agendas passed with the exception of two items for transferring CIP Funds for the rail spur project and to the fire department payroll for Chief raise. The two items were tabled after council members Brian Forrester and Neal Johnson requested the items be pulled from the vote for further discussion and clarification.

“I've pretty much told everybody what this is about. I don't know what additional discussion is necessary,” Kruithof said.

Forrester asked the issue to be tabled for further discussion.

Several appointments to various city boards were approved by council: to the Miami Industrial and Public Facilities Authority, Keith Manion, Marcel Walther, Jeff Birdsong, and Kyle Roblyer; Judee Snodderly to the Miami Development Authority; Brian Forrester to the Miami Flood Mitigation Advisory Board; Jeff Stewart, Sam Grubb and Jim Belcher to the Airport Authority Board; David Davis, Susan Rhodes, Lee Ann Walker, and Dean Post to the Fair Housing Board; Mable Dowler, Julie Smith and J. Mark Rickman to the Library Board.

Council approved a lease agreement for the mowing and baling of the approximately 50 acres of property on and around the Miami Municipal Airport to Dean Hull, which will benefit the city $2,000 in revenue.