EVART – The city of Evart will start replacing water and sewer service lines that have been identified as having lead or copper.

The city council accepted a bid proposal from Gerber Construction for $263,250 for the first phase of the line replacement project at its Dec. 7 meeting.

The project is part of the city's capital improvement plan that involves replacing all the lead and galvanized water and sewer lines throughout the city as required by the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) passed in 2018.

Great Lakes and Energy, the LCR was enacted to "protect the public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water," which enters the water system through corroded lead and copper service lines, according to the Michigan Department of Environment.

“In accordance with the LCR Rule, the city is required to replace a minimum of 5% of its non-standard water service lines annually,” Mark Wilson, assistant city manager and public works director, said. “Our current expectation is to replace 35 to 40 locations annually.”

According to Wilson, the city has budgeted $150,000 for the project in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The balance of $113,250 will come from the water fund’s fund balance.

Wilson told the council he was recommending accepting the one-year proposal from Gerber Construction because the city has worked with the company on other projects and they have proven themselves to be an outstanding local partner.

“We have a very good working relationship with Gerber Construction, and they were involved with the previous exploratory work done through the EGLE grant where the lead service lines were identified,” Wilson said.

Although the bid proposal included additional years, Wilson recommended accepting the one-year proposal only at this time.

“Based on the higher than expected year two through five proposals, I recommend we rebid the project again next year in hopes of more competition,” he said. “With the growing need for this service nationwide, newer technologies and methods are being developed that could contribute to lower future costs.”

In other business, Wilson informed the council that the holiday lights for the old railroad bridge have been received and they will be installing them on the bridge soon.

“We are in the process of placing all the bulbs into the sockets,” he said. “Once that is completed, we will be installing them on the bridge.”

During the meeting, council also approved:

• A motion to adopt updates to the city purchasing policy.

• A motion to approve the city policy on capital assets.

• A motion to approve the city records management and retention policy.

• Following a closed session, the council approved a request to hire the law firm Dickinson & Wright for arbitration with the Police Union.