Plainwell receives large grant for water and sewer planning

By: 
Daniel Pepper

The City of Plainwell has received a state grant which will help it maintain its water and sewer system into the future.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grant of $979,020 can’t be used mainly for new equipment or pipes but will be very valuable in keeping the system working.
City manager Erik Wilson said, “It’s going to be extremely useful in getting a handle on the assets we have above and below ground and properly planning for the replacement of those assets.”
He said the city had been working on getting the state grant for a long time.
An example of the things the grant will pay for includes sending video cameras through lines to look for cracks and developing cracks.
Wilson said, “We’ll also check the condition of the water tower and all those things that are needed and are very expensive.”
In the city’s budget it submitted with the grant, it included updating the computerized GIS map it has of the systems, which will allow the city to know more precisely what it has in the ground.
It will also be used to develop capital improvement plans and budgets for the next 20 years based on the expected need to replace certain systems.
Wilson said, “This will give a huge shot in the arm and make our review and planning as robust as possible.”
The grant will also pay for training for city staff to learn to use new systems.
The city has been seeking the SAW grant for a long time and didn’t know if it would be one of those municipalities funded, part of which was chosen by lottery.
“They didn’t judge you so much on the application, but they’d just put you in line,” Wilson said.
Plainwell was originally toward the middle bottom of the list.
“So, we were concerned whether we’d get funded or not,” Wilson said.
The state agency awarded a total of $64 million statewide to 80 municipalities. This is the fifth round of grant awards in the Stormwater, Asset management and Wastewater (SAW) program. It has appropriated $450 million over the program’s duration.

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