Q & A With Saline's New WPWT Superintendent
Saline is going to need a well experienced Water Production and Wastewater Treatment Superintendent to follow through with the already established plan to modernize and expand its wastewater treatment facility. That position was long-vacant until this week, when the Saline City Council approved the appointment of a man who already has experience in this same exact situation from his previous job.
William ‘Bill’ Briggs spoke to the Sun Times News in this interview, which was conducted by phone. It has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
The Sun Times News: How is it going so far?
Bill Briggs: Busy so far. I’m just trying to get up to speed on everything.
The Sun Times News: What made you apply to be Saline’s Department of Public Works Supervisor?
Bill Briggs: I was interested in advancing my career, so I applied and found out everything that was going on. So that made it interesting to see what I could do here.
The Sun Times News: Could you talk a bit about your experience?
Bill Briggs: I started in Wixom, in Oakland County, at their wastewater treatment plant. I worked there for over seven years. Then a position opened up in Hillsdale. I [applied to work] there because I grew up in Hillsdale County. [I was there] for five and a half years.
The Sun Times News: Saline has been put in a position where it is having to invest massively in the modernization and expansion of its wastewater treatment facility. Didn’t you have to go through a similar, $9 million situation when you were the head of public works in Hillsdale County?
Bill Briggs: Yes. Hillsdale had tanks that were failing and needed to be replaced. They spent about $9 million and really could’ve spent more because there were other things that needed to be done. I unfortunately didn’t have anything to do with the planning of that, I just had to handle the construction side of it.
There were actually a couple of things that they had taken off because they didn’t want to spend the money on that. Through the middle of the project I said, ‘Don’t we have contingency funds that we could spend on a couple of things that got cut?’ For instance, they took out sand filters. Originally there had been a plan for some disk filters to be replaced with sand filters but they took those out. So, I got those put back in.
The Sun Times News: Did that improve the plants efficiency?
Bill Briggs: Yes, that improved the plants effluent flow for solids.
The Sun Times News: Some Salinians have had periodic odor complaints near the wastewater treatment plant. How would you approach fixing that issue?
Bill Briggs: I think there’s some things operationally that we can do. There are definitely some upgrades that need to happen. I think when we get some of those upgrades installed the odor problems will disappear because of operational efficiencies.
The Sun Times News: Storms are getting stronger and inclement weather more common globally. How can the city beef up its infrastructure to face this when old infrastructure was designed for weather that was less intense and more regular?
Bill Briggs: They’re talking about doing a cast in pipe, where you line the pipe that is there with a fiber material that is impregnated with a type of resin. So, when the resin cures, it basically lines the pipe. It decreases any crack or misaligned joint. It also smooths out the interior of the pipe, so it flows better.
You’d have less potential for material holding up on it, so you would have less potential for backups. It would flow smoothly down the pipe rather than hanging on a corner that might be exposed.
As for the capacity issue: the sewer lines are within the city themselves. If you can reduce the amount of infiltration from the rain, they are plenty big enough to handle anything that you have already installed for.