Joint RSD Meeting Notes Jan 24, 2023 – Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSDs) Posted at Brown County Matters
- Future meetings: BCRSD – Feb 14, HRSD – Feb 1, Joint – Feb 28
- Draft Map and phased approach to the expansion of sewers for an estimated $30 million (plus) investment. The BCRSD board members believe that the public is not entitled to review the draft. The state public access counselor will make a determination.
- Deliverables – April 1, 2023. This is the target date for both boards to have a completed Preliminary Engineering Report (PERs). These should include the “final” map (s) of the areas to be served. Both boards believe they can meet this target. The PERs are required in order to get funding. Once/if funding is secured for the proposed projects, rates can be estimated. Obtaining easements will be needed prior to any construction.
- BCRSD – Lack of a customer (citizen) focus. The BCRSD has been consistent in developing a solution (PER) and then informing the customers of their decisions after the fact. This was the approach taken in June 2018 when they introduced the PER in their failed efforts to build a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom. They were granted over $270K from the county in support of this initiative. They received another $300K from the county to support the current project.
- Risks. In the Bean Blossom area, residents will need to grant over 190 easements. The BCRSD was unable to acquire land for a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom and residents may push back on granting easements. The “need” in the Bean Blossom area has included the desire for development. There is no documented evidence of failing systems that would support the significant investment in the Bean Blossom area. The two previous BCRSD board presidents resigned over the issue of not validating a need and getting customer buy-in. The EPA has identified that conventional septic systems are designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained.
- Helmsburg Projects. Unlike the Bean Blossom area, the Helmsburg, Trevlac, and Lake Lemon areas do have a documented need and community support.
- County Wastewater Strategy – Responsibility and Accountability. The BCRSD has decided not to hold public meetings yet on the results of “their” county-wide wastewater strategic plan and water quality study. This public meeting was to allow for questions on the scope of the solutions and the analysis of needs. Commissioners and the Council appoint members to the RSD boards, provide money, and also have a responsibility to hold public meetings to ensure citizens are aware of the scope, status, and risk of initiatives.
- The County Comprehensive Plan should represent the “voice of the citizens” to include what residents want and do not want in terms of a wastewater strategy. This plan or updates to this plan requires resident input at public hearings. This allows citizens to voice their concerns regarding need, affordability, and support or lack thereof to their “elected” officials as opposed to “appointed” officials. Elected officials can delegate accountability but not their responsibility. Voters have a responsibility to hold elected officials accountable.
- The So what? When you are adding costs to hundreds of citizens to include monthly fees (and other start-up costs?) for a service that may not be needed by all, it may not be well-received which increases project risks.