Greenville pursues water and sewer grant


By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 10:33 pm on Friday, November 08, 2013

Prein & Newhoff engineer James Hegarty discusses with the Greenville City Council the potential for a $2 million sewer and wastewater grant. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

 

GREENVILLE — This city is hoping to be awarded a potential $2 million storm and wastewater grant to help identify conditions of water and sanitary sewer systems and outline a longterm plan for repairs and upkeep.

On Monday, the Greenville City Council approved the submission of an application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, who awards the grant. The application, which is due Dec. 2, will be prepared by engineering firm Prein & Newhof.

If awarded, the grant would prepare a comprehensive geographic information system that will document conditions, plans and records of each system that can be used on a daily basis, and would also compile an asset inventory with an estimated life expectancy of pipes and manholes. The benefit of that, according to engineer James Hegarty of Prein & Newhoff, is the plan looks at conditions, longterm ownership costs and helps the city develop longterm funding plans to maintain the system for the next 50 to 75 years.

“It’s both a physical management tool you can use every day on the job and a longterm financial tool,” Hegarty said. “The whole purpose of this, engineering speaking, is to asses a longterm plan. As a civil engineer, this makes sense to me and, in the ideal world, this is how it would be done.”

The city could be awarded up to the full $2 million if it qualifies as a “disadvantaged community.” Most of the grant, $1.5 million, would be for asset management planning and the other $500,000 would be designated for construction projects, with no local match.

If the city does not qualify as disadvantaged, it could only be awarded a $1 million grant, with an approximate investment by the city of $40,000 per year for two years and $10,000 in the third year.

“We believe you will qualify as disadvantaged,” Hegarty said. “Based on the demographics and mapping work we’ve done, you’re just over on the right side of this one.”

The city has not committed to any funds at this point and could turn down the grant if awarded either amount. If the city qualifies for the grant, it will be entered into a lottery pool of municipalities to be awarded the highly competitive grant.

The timing for the grant is prime, officials said, because it would likely have to at least partially conduct an asset management plan for its wastewater plant anyway. Because the city owns its wastewater plant, it must acquire a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which allows the discharge of wastewater and determines requirements for how clean it must be.

The city’s current permit expires next year and to obtain a new one, it must have an asset management plan.

“If we don’t (go for the grant), we will have to do all this on our own dime,” City Manager George Bosanic said. “They are requiring cities to make a plan and stick to it.”

Council unanimously agreed the grant should be sought and said it was a way for the city to plan ahead.

“I think Greenville has really tried to be proactive,” Councilwoman Jeanne Cunliffe said. “I think this is a good idea.”

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