Ketchikan is seen from the water on a beautiful sunny day.

Ketchikan is seen from the water on a beautiful sunny day.

The Ketchikan City Council meets in regular session Thursday, and on the agenda is a $100,000 addition to the city’s contract with engineering consultants CH2MHill. That firm has been working with the city on the decade-long process to convert the public water treatment system from free chlorine to a combination of UV light and chloramine.

According to Water Division Manager John Kleinegger, public opposition to the change that arose early this year led to the city using CH2MHill’s services more than anticipated.

Specifically, Kleinegger noted in a memo that the firm helped the City Council and city staff respond to citizen concerns; requested letters from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the American Water Works Association showing support for chloramine treatment; and provided assistance in refuting information in a letter to the mayor from national consumer advocate Erin Brokovich.

Representatives from CH2MHill also attended three Council meetings to provide information about chloramine water disinfection, and provided updated cost estimates in case the city needs to develop another treatment system.

A ballot initiative petition was turned in two weeks ago by a group that opposes the city’s use of chloramine. If it passes the city’s legal review, city voters would be asked to decide whether to prohibit chloramine in the public water system.

The city turned on the new chloramine disinfection system last week. The city has an interim permit to operate the chloramine/UV facility, and that permit expires Sept. 30th. The city must prove that it has met all regulations, and answered all state DEC concerns before final approval will be given.

Kleinegger noted that CH2MHill’s assistance likely will be needed during that interim period. In a memo to Kleinegger, the firm’s vice president and project manager, Floyd Damron, wrote that CH2MHill also would assist the city attorney with any questions he might have for his legal review of the ballot proposition petition, at an estimated cost of up to $10,000.

If the additional $100,000 is approved, the CH2MHill contract with the city will total $1.375 million.

Also Thursday, the Council will talk about whether to move forward with a fence along the Third Avenue Bypass, to discourage people from throwing items down the hill into residential areas.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.