Reed City receives $14 million for wastewater plant upgrades

State Sen. Kunse announces award of Clean Water Revolving Fund financing

REED CITY — The planned waste water treatment plant renovation for the city of Reed City may soon get underway as the city receives still more good news about financing the project.

Republican State Sen. Tom Kunse (District 100) announced the approval of a $14 million award from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for the city.

The clean water program is a low-interest financing program that helps qualified local municipalities with the construction of necessary water pollution control facilities. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy offers many communities grants to substantially lower the balance of loans taken out for critical water infrastructure projects. These projects include wastewater treatment upgrades and the elimination of combined sewer system overflows, pumping station improvements, and non-point source pollution project to reduce nutrient and contaminant runoff to waterways.

“This vital grant will bring much-needed improvements to the overall management of Reed City’s water,” Kunse said. “I hope this serves as a catalyst for further infrastructural improvements in the area.”

City manager Rich Saladin told the Pioneer that engineering and project planning for the city’s wastewater treatment plant were underway when he was hired in 2021, with a projected cost of approximately $14 million dollars, which may be higher now due to inflation.

“As we approached the design portion of the project, we brought on a bond counselor and financial counselor to assist with the financing,” Saladin said. “At that time, Reed City was in the 2022 Clean Water State Revolving Fund cycle and were scheduled to get 30% forgiveness on the project, which meant we would have to finance 70% or $9.8 million.”

In reviewing the numbers with the bond counselor and financial advisor, it was determined it would be impossible for the city to bond for that amount, so the city went to work on how to finance the project without significantly raising sewer rates for residents and businesses, Saladin said.

“Our counselors and leadership made the decision that we would need to find alternative funding options through additional grants,” he said.

They began reaching out to local legislators and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office to express the need for assistance. Saladin spoke with Republican State Sen. Curt VanderWall (District 35) and state Republican State Rep. Michele Hoitenga (District 102), who represented the district at the time.

“We made a detailed plan and, very specifically, asked for a state appropriation from our legislators as part of the state budget to fund the project,” he said. “We also arranged a visit from Gov. Whitmer and her staff to visit Reed City and see first hand the impact the new WWTP would have on our community. We did a great job of conveying the need to multiple parties.”

Saladin explained they also made a decision to reapply for funding through the CWSRF and move our project from the 2022 cycle to the 2023 cycle in hopes that additional ARP monies would be available. At the same time, they applied for a Water Related Infrastructure grant through the state to help with a key part of the project that would include removing the aging trestle bridge that carries raw sewage over the Hersey River to the south waste water treatment plant. 

“This proactive approach for funding paid off on all three opportunities,” Saladin said. “The city of Reed City received a $10 million appropriation through the approved state budget in June 2022, thanks to support from Sen VanderWall, Rep Hoitenga, Rep Roger Hauck and Speaker Jason Wentworth. It was presented in the state budget, and Gov. Whitmer signed with her approval. We were also awarded $2 million from the WRI grant. And, lastly, the move to the 2023 CWSRF grant cycle was the right decision, as we received a 100% grant funded amount of $14 million for the WWTP.”


The city is still waiting on final approval of the WRI grant, he said, and once that is approved, they will begin bidding the project out in two phases, which will include the demolition and removal of the current treatment plant on the south side of the Hersey River at the end of Lincoln Avenue, as well as the removal of the trestle bridge bringing waste from the east end of town into that plant.

In addition, new pump stations will be built up to the facility on Commerce Drive.

The project will also include removal of older processes that utilitze expensive chemicals in treating the wastewater.

“We will transition to an UltraViolet process that is more environmentally friendly and less costly,” Saladin said. “We hope to bid the project in early spring and expect it to be completed within two years.”

Saladin emphasized residents should not expect any disruption of services during the transition, as it will involve a switchover from going into the old plant to going into pump stations and up to the new facilities.

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.