The City of Crowell has been awarded another $10 million from the USDA Rural Development (RD) for Phase II of a wastewater treatment plant improvement project.
The City will receive a $6,750,000 grant and a 2.5 percent low-interest loan for $3,250,000.
Consultant Fleis & VandenBrink helped the city with the USDA RD grant application and preliminary engineering report. The city also received a $3.74 million grant and a $1.26 million low-interest loan from USDA RD in 2018 for Phase 1 work.
The wastewater project is the second major infrastructure improvement project that the city is undertaking. In 2017, it received a $1.9 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for water system improvements.
“It’s is a big deal,” said Sam Moore, city administrator. “It’s really neat to be able to fix some of the infrastructure that we’ve been wanting to fix and do it efficiently and quickly instead of having to drag it out over years and years.
“We’re going to be able to do it all in one fell swoop.”
The project calls for wastewater treatment plant and collection system improvements aimed at reducing excess inflow into the plant. Improvements and repairs in the collection system and the wastewater treatment plant, most of it constructed in the 1950s, have been discussed at council meetings since June 2016.
“It is going to set Croswell up for the next 50 years,” Moore added.
The much-needed improvements were identified in the city’s Wastewater Asset Management plan and in previous discussions with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Among the wastewater treatment plant improvements will be a new clarifier, secondary treatment process upgrades, electrical improvements and pump replacements. Included in the project will be slip lining and replacing various sections of pipe.
“We’re one of the lucky ones,” said Tom Fockler, foreman at the city’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). “This grant is a good thing for Croswell because it really helps our taxpayers a lot.
“The combined sewer separation work will help the plant out because it will take out the excess inflow within those areas. When we have those rain events, we won’t get those huge surges at the plant.”
Frank Pelc, a 14-year operator at the WWTP, grew up in Croswell and believes the upgrades will make the city thrive again.
“It’s really unbelievable for our little town to get this kind of financial help,” Pelc said. “It will be nice to have some updated equipment here so we can handle more Industrial wastewater and entice more large businesses to come here because we need it.”
“The improvements also include moving away from the rotating biological contractors (RBCs) – the conventional aerobic biological wastewater treatment process – and replacing it with the Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBRs).
“Switching from the RBCs to the MBBRs is huge,” Moore said. “And not just because our RBCs are aged and dying, but we’re getting a system that is less maintenance. It will also allow us more flexibility for treatment in the future.”
“This $10 million is going to take care of our issues with stormwater in the collection system and other issues at the treatment plant,” said Ed Carstens, the city’s wastewater superintendent. “And all the band aids that we’ve been using to keep things operating will come off.”
Consultant Gary Bartow, F&V’s East Michigan Group Manager, credited the city’s administration for taking a proactive stance on fixing its aging infrastructure.
“It’s a great opportunity for the City of Croswell to fix deficiencies in the collection system and at the wastewater treatment plant,” Bartow said. “We applaud Sam, the city’s staff and council for applying for the USDA grant and thank whole-heartedly the USDA for their continued assistance to the city.”
Moore said the USDA RD program has been a godsend.
“I’m just amazed how great the USDA people are to work with,” Moore added. “They really care and walk you through the process which is pretty nice.”
The grant and loan will be administered by the state and area staff of the USDA RD on behalf of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
The City of Croswell is located four miles east of Lake Huron along the Black River in southeastern Sanilac County. The city had 2,447 residents in 2018. The WWTP currently has just under 1,000 users.