posted on April 20, 2021

CONTACT:    Michael S. Sessions                                        DATE: April 20, 2021

                   City Superintendent / City Clerk

PHONE:         (517) 458 – 6828 ext. 102                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


At the April 19, 2021 Morenci City Council meeting, the Morenci City Council commended the City of Morenci DPW Team, and specifically: Gary Pfund, Eric Emmons, Isaiah Pruitt, D.J. Gerken, Kipp Scott, Michael Sessions, Paul Seegert of the Michigan Rural Water Association (MRWA), and John Holland of the Michigan Rural Water Association (MRWA) for the work that they have done to take the City of Morenci’s Drinking Water Program from a dismal state to a state of pride.

The commendations were in response to the satisfactory sanitary survey that was recently received from the State of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The sanitary survey results resulted in three (3) categories that were considered deficient and three (3) categories were recommendations were made with no deficiencies or recommendations in five (5) categories. This is a significant improvement from the 2018 sanitary survey where the City of Morenci had six (6) deficiency categories and four (4) recommendation categories out of a total of 11 total categories.

It is also a significant upgrade from issues that arose from November 2019 when it was found that the City of Morenci’s water operator was no longer licensed. EGLE wrote in a follow-up letter to the City of Morenci that they had found the following:

“Particularly troubling was the apparent falsification of monthly operating reports (MORS) by Mr. [Lonnie] Vanderpool regarding amounts of chemicals applied and results of testing. To a large degree, the success of the community drinking water compliance program depends on the truthfulness of certified operators.”

“EGLE acknowledges that Morenci officials acted quickly when notified of actions/inactions of the former operator which led to violations of Act 399. Steps Morenci took towards returning to compliance with Act 399 were hiring a certified operator as well as implementing the recommendations of the temporary certified operator and other experts. The cooperation and efforts put forth by Morenci, granted the City the opportunity to utilize scarce funds towards necessary improvements to the water system that otherwise would have been fines and penalties assessed by EGLE.”

Violations that existed at that time of Act 99, included:

  • Operator – Operator renew certification
  • Design – Meter on each well
  • Treatment – Operational monitoring chlorine
  • Reporting – Incorrect MOR form being used
  • Sanitary defects – Leaky roof
  • Sanitary defects – Poor condition of building surfaces both exterior and interior
  • Operator – Inability to conduct routine operational tests or to answer basic questions about the operation
  • Managerial – No hydrant flushing of distribution system
  • Managerial – Lack of operator accountability to city government
  • Managerial – DPW office in disarray and unsanitary
  • Operator – No backup operator or training program for operator

The Morenci City Council applauds the work done by the City of Morenci’s DPW Team to avoid fines and penalties for these findings. Those fines and penalties have been invested back into the drinking water program. A list of those improvements made are the following:

  • Electrical Upgrades & Generator Work:                                         $38,374.12
  • Water Treatment Plant Roof:                                                       $16,095.00
  • Fencing:                                                                                    $21,000.00
  • Locks and Doors at Water Treatment Plant:                                   $1,100.00
  • SCADA and Telemetry at Water Treatment Plant & Lift Station:       $57,820.00
  • Heater at Water Treatment Plant:                                                 $2,200.00
  • Chlorine Injection Room:                                                             $11,002.55
  • Laboratory Equipment:                                                                $10,830.60
  • Inventory of Water Supplies:                                                       $8,160.05
  • Piping and Valve Work at Water Treatment Plant:                          $63,774.42

Total Cost of Work to Water Supply System:                                  $230,356.75

Future work is planned that includes the following:

  • Iron Removal Filter Media Replacement:                                       $80,000.00

to $150,000.00

  • Lead line replacement (every year for at least 10 years):                $25,000.00

to $100,000.00

  • Painting of Water Treatment Plant:                                              $10,000.00
  • Epoxy of Water Treatment Plant Floor:                                        $8,000.00

The memorandum from City Superintendent / City Clerk Michael Sessions is downloadable below regarding this agenda item. The memorandum includes what the City of Morenci is doing to correct the deficiencies that were identified in the 2021 sanitary survey.