The Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Authority took a step closer to severing its ties with engineering company GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
After communication lapses with the landfill board about project construction costs and cell capacity that wreaked havoc with MOASWA's budget, the commissioners voted to accept bids from other companies to handle the landfill's engineering needs.
GZA still will be responsible for the groundwater and air quality testing and reporting, but the board thought it would be best to at least look into other service options.
Currently the landfill is waiting for the company to turn over information to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment that would allow the state department to issue a temporary permit for the landfill to begin using its lagoons that were constructed late last year. The deadline for GZA to have the data submitted is Monday, but because it is a holiday some of the commissioners were having doubts the date would be met.
Oscoda County Commissioner Mike Hunt said the DNRE is willing to work with the landfill, but it must have all the facts from GZA on its desk first.
"We're hopeful that GZA will be able to get the job done as promised," board Chairman Mike Hunt said. "Monday is President's Day, so I'm sure we'll be calling them today to remind them of that. Once the stuff is sent to the (DNRE) they said it would be a week or two until we would have the permit. They are willing to help us, but they don't have the information they need and we can't use the lagoons until we get approval."
Alpena County Commissioner Cam Habermehl said seeking another firm has been a long time coming, but if a change can save the landfill money, it is worth examining.
"This has been going on for a long time and we need to get it cleaned up," Habermehl said. "I think we need to look for a new contractor. Maybe we can find one that is a little closer to home so we don't have to pay for overnight hotel stays.GZA comes all the way from Grand Rapids and I'm sure it costs us a lot. Maybe we can find someone from Alpena or Gaylord that will be cheaper. I think there is a lot of frustration with GZA right now and it's not all there fault, but things need to get cleaned up."
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.