Howard City receives $400,000 SAW grant

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:12 pm on Friday, October 24, 2014

HOWARD CITY — This small village recently became the second town in Montcalm County to receive a Stormwater, Asset Management & Wastewater (SAW) grant.

The $423,963 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) — with a village funding match of about $47,000 — will allow Howard City to begin an otherwise expensive assessment of its wastewater and storm water systems.

The Howard City Village Council learned details about the project on Monday night from engineers David Bluhm and Paul Galdes of Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering Inc. in Grand Rapids.

“It’s a sizable, sizable grant,” Bluhm told the village council.

The DEQ’s grant program proved to be so popular that it was flooded with applications and had to institute a yearly lottery system. Carson City received a SAW grant early this year for the first year while Belding in Ionia County received a SAW grant in September for the second year of the program. Howard City’s grant is also for the second year, 2015.

Howard City Village President S. Michael Scott, who is retiring next month, said the grant application process has taken two years to complete.

“I just think its a great opportunity for the village,” Scott said. “It puts us in a better position in the future to understand what our capital improvement plan needs to be for our water department. It positions us better to make the right decisions.”

According to Fleis & VandenBrink engineers, the goal of the SAW grant is to stimulate municipalities to update their sanitary sewer systems and storm water systems. The grant will allow Howard City to create geographic information systems (GIS) mapping for the village’s entire water system. Village officials will receive a laptop and GIS software as part of the grant, as well as a global positioning system (GPS) unit for the village’s DPW employees.

“The GIS is kind of the glue that holds all the work together,” Galdes explained. “We’ll be doing a lot of field work to collect information on where your structures are, where your pipes are. Those all get rolled out into the GIS map and that’s a program in and of itself.”

Once the water system map is completed, the condition of the village’s entire water system will be assessed, which will be a major project. Howard City will have three years to complete the project, with the help of Fleis & VandenBrink engineers. A capital improvement plan will be developed in the future based on the results of the mapping and assessment research.

“This is a planning project,” Galdes emphasized. “There’s no construction involved. This will be a road map to move forward.”

The Howard City Village Council unanimously approved authorizing Scott to sign an agreement with Fleis & VandenBrink for the project.

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