Michigan Lt. Gov. Gilchrist tours Reed City wastewater treatment plant

Facility slated for $10 million in state funding for upgrades

REED CITY — Reed City officials recently received some good news from the state regarding funding for the upgraded wastewater treatment plant project that has been in the works for the past several years.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II recently visited with city officials to tour the plant and congratulate the city on being selected as one of several Michigan communities to receive funding from the state for the infrastructure project.

Following months of bipartisan talks with legislators and other political leaders in Lansing, Reed City was selected to receive a $10 million budget appropriation, which was approved in the most recent budget proposal. 

“I am very proud of the budget that was signed yesterday," Gilchrist said after touring the plant July 21. "It is an amazing bipartisan budget that invests in transformative infrastructure projects.

"In seeing this facility and hearing from everyone about what that the $10 million investment that we have made here in RC is going to mean for transforming this water treatment infrastructure, and what that unlocks and enables for businesses in the region, it is going to attract more investment for the community. It is a win-win, and these are the kind of investments we want to make with our state budget. We are very proud of this one, and I wanted to come and see it for myself.”

Planned upgrades to the facility include:

  • Demolition and removal of the south treatment plant;
  • Construction of two influent pump stations;
  • Modifications to the influent equalization tanks;
  • Construction of a headworks building;
  • Modifications to the existing Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) treatment system;
  • The addition of tertiary filters;
  • Construction of an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system;
  • Chemical feed system improvements; and
  • A new outfall to the Hersey River.

“One of the things I really appreciated from the general manager is that this is a green infrastructure project,” Gilchrist said. “By changing the processing to no longer use chemicals, but to using an ultraviolet process, this is something that is going to be cleaner and safer for the employees.”

He said investing in infrastructure that will lead to economic activity and improved safety is what he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are here to do as representatives of all of Michigan.

“This is motivating us to continue to meet and continuously sit at the table with the legislature to find opportunities to make these investments,” he continued. “There are communities across the state that will benefit from these types of investments and Gov. Whitmer and I want to make sure we are taking advantage of every opportunity we can to help these communities.”

PROJECT FUNDING

City manager Rich Saladin told the Pioneer that city officials began putting together the engineering and moving forward with the project in 2016.

“When I started (as city manager), the engineering had been completed and they were ready to go out for bids,” Saladin said. “One of the things we began to look at was the funding for the project. At an estimated $14 million, it didn’t seem feasible at the time for that much funding to bond it so we started looking at our options.”

He explained they began contacting elected leaders, who were talking about all the additional funding the state was receiving and what they could do with it.

“We coordinated meetings with (state Sen. Curt) VanderWall and (state Rep. Michele) Hoitenga. We reached out to the speaker of the house and the governor's office,” Saladin said. “We told them what we needed and that it is vital to the economy of Michigan. They looked at it and saw the value of it for Reed City in creating reliability and dependability for our biggest users and the economic impact it will have. We finally got what we needed.”

Because the $10 million in state funding does not cover the entire cost of the project, the city is continuing to pursue a Community Development Block Grant of $2 million and will continue to look at the possibility of a Clean Water State Revolving fund low interest loan to finance the remaining costs.

“We still have to work out the total funding package. The $10 million won’t be appropriated before October or November,” Saladin said. “We will need to go through the bidding process and see what the final tally will be. The $14 million project may be higher now due to inflation. There are a lot of variables, but a big chunk of it will be covered by this funding. These funds will make a huge difference in what we have to bond, and the burden on the taxpayer over the years.” 

Gilchrist said the funding has been agreed upon and signed into law by Gov. Whitmer, and the next step is to get the money out to the community so that the investment can begin.

“They want to get it started right away, so that in the next two weeks to three years they can have the new facility up and running and operational,” he said. “The project is shovel ready, so this should happen pretty fast.”