The water supply intake lines for both Marion and Hillsboro water plants were sucking up thousands of small fish Monday because of a natural occurring phenomenon, according to information presented at the Marion City Council meeting.
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the problem was discovered Monday morning when Marty Fredrickson, who is also a certified water treatment plant operator, noticed the water flow through the intake line was diminishing.
Officials knew they had a problem when the city?s line from the Marion Reservoir to the water plant was not flowing at its normal rate, Kjellin told council members.
?We did a 45-minute flush this morning,? he said, ?and after that it was just water and silver shad flying out (of the strainer basket).?
Once city officials knew what they were dealing with, Kjellin said someone from the water department cleared the intake every half hour all day Monday to keep the flow at normal levels.
?In talking with Marty,? he said, ?this is an event that occurs about every 10 years and happens when fast fluctuations from really hot weather to cooler weather cause the fish to dive down lower into the same strata as our intake (line).?
As for how long the problem will continue, Kjellin said he had no idea.
?Hillsboro has the same concerns,? he said, ?and there?s not anyway to stop it other than someday, somehow (the shad) decide to go someplace else.
?Then the problem will be solved.?
For now, Kjellin said the problem is under control and water department personnel are monitoring the flow.
?Somebody will be out there digging the strainer baskets out and flushing the lines,? he said.
Kjellin also wanted everyone to know that if they were serious about getting smelt or shad, all they would need to do is go to the face of the dam.
?Someone could get all they want,? he said. ?(The shad) are everywhere?the water is foaming with them.?
Sewer pond dredging
The council unanimously approved its only bid of $340,000 submitted by Middlecreek Corp.,?Peabody, to dredge all three sewer ponds at the city?s wastewater site.
?The original bond and appropriation dedicated to this project was $430,000?$285,000 from bond and $145,000 from EPA appropriations,? Kjellin said.
The agreement is for a general contractor at Middlecreek Corp. to take between 24 inches to 36 inches of sludge from the lagoon, he said.
Council member Jerry Kline asked how the city will supervise this project to make sure the work is completed.
Using highly specialized equipment, Kjellin said, the city?s engineer has estimated how many tons of sewage should be removed from each pond.
?I suggest we get one pond done,? he said, ?and double check the depths and see if we have no sediment at a specified point.?
Kjellin also said now is a good time for dredging the sewer ponds because the winds have shifted easterly and northerly, which will keep the smell down.
?In mid-summer, we have south winds,? he said.
According to a letter Kjellin presented to the council, Larry Glover, the owner of 311 E. Santa Fe, was given an offer by the city of $500 for his property, which is pending condemnation procedures. The letter stated that Glover agreed to the sale and the city?s offer of razing the house and cleaning up the property at a cost of $4,000.
After the work is completed, Kjellin wrote that he would then propose splitting the lot in half and market those halves to the adjacent homeowners with a price equal to the city?s demolition costs.
City Attorney Keith Collett said further discussion on this property acquisition should be done in executive session. Following a 10-minute executive session, the council returned to open session, taking no action.
VFW requests cleanup help
Warren Kreutziger, representing the Marion VFW, requested the council help the organization clean up the property behind the VFW building to the north and east, adding there are almost three years of back taxes due.
?The VFW would be willing to buy (the property) if it came up on a tax sale,? he said, ?but we can?t afford to have the trees pushed down (without help).?
The group has no use for the land, he said, but if they could acquire it and get it cleaned up, the Boy Scouts could use it as a campsite and place for them.
City Attorney Keith Collett explained the group?s request for help in cleaning up the area is premature. Collett said it is private land and the city or VFW has no right to be there.
?It might be one or two years before it comes up on a tax sale,? he said.
Should the situation change, though, Council member Steve Smith said this could be a good community project, adding that many people would volunteer to help the Scouts.
Kreutziger said he and the other representatives present were wanting to make the council aware of the situation and what could be done if the lot was cleared.
Mayor Mary Olson said the only way the city could become involved is if the property was condemned, but it was unclear whether the owner was violating any city ordinance at this time.
In other business, the council:
? approved a resolution authorizing the completion of an application to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment regarding a loan from the state?s public water supply for $220,000 for modifications and improvements.
? approved a fee structure for street and alley openings whenever it?s necessary for a utility or private company to complete installations, repairs or service lines. The fee structure was part of the city?s General Financial and Budgetary Policies.