RUSS agrees to manage Parnell’s wastewater system
By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News
In addition to managing its own wastewater treatment facilities, the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) is branching out.
During a special meeting Wednesday via conference call, RUSS directors approved entering into an agreement with the City of Parnell to operate its wastewater treatment plant.
RUSS Executive Director Bruce Hudson told his board during its regular meeting March 8, that the utility was close to an agreement with Parnell and that he would be meeting with the city council Friday.
Under terms of the agreement, RUSS will be paid $1,500 monthly for its services. Should RUSS be needed for emergency repairs or any other work not considered a part of the operator contract, the utility will be paid $85 per hour plus expenses.
“We are serving the intent of the organization which is to help communities,” noted Hudson. “These people had no one to turn to and they turned to us.”
RUSS, in its contract with Parnell, will furnish Iowa Department of Natural Resources certified wastewater staff to operate Parnell’s three-cell facultative wastewater lagoon.
In addition, RUSS will collect samples and submit them to the lab (at the expense of the city); file reports as required; and maintain all records and sample analysis.
Furthermore, RUSS will monitor the lagoon operations per the required monitoring /sampling schedule; monitor flow measurements and lagoon level at least once per week; perform bi-annual drawdowns with required sampling at the lagoon; monitor lagoon for fencing, drainage, weed control, burrowing animals and erosion issues; and exercise the valves at the lagoon at least every six months during drawdowns.
RUSS is also required to check lift stations and review recordings of the daily flow data at least once a week; perform periodic maintenance on the lift stations at least every three months or when necessary; check floats/control panel; test pumps; exercise valves at the lift stations; and clean the pump lift station.
Finally, RUSS will also conduct manhole cleanouts and inspections every six months and record findings.
Hudson also told his board during Wednesday’s teleconference that he had begun talks with a community in southeastern Iowa for a similar arrangement.
“After receiving a call from a community in southeast Iowa, I reached out to them and now the ball is in their court,” he said. “They have some of the same issues as Parnell, aging infrastructure and no wastewater plant operator.
During the RUSS board meeting last week, Hudson said he is still in talks with the Poweshiek Rural Water Association to handle four of its wastewater systems beginning July 1. Hudson also said he has been contacted by several communities in the region about operating and maintaining their wastewater systems.
Hudson said he saw this coming (lack of plant operators). “A lot of communities have aging plant operators and there are a limited number of operators out there. We are trying to fill the void.”
The board and Hudson see entering such agreements as another revenue source for RUSS. “Sure, it allows us to generate funds, but it also allows us to help communities,” Hudson explained. “In the long run, we are both benefitting. It is a win-win situation for both sides.”
Next regular meeting of the RUSS board will be Wednesday, April 12, at 1 p.m., in the Henry County Emergency Management Building in Mt. Pleasant.