Croswell gets USDA funds for $5 million sewer improvement project

The City of Crowell will be starting design next month for a $5 million wastewater treatment plant improvement project funded with a 75 percent grant through the USDA Rural Development (RD) program.

Consultant Fleis & VandenBrink helped the city with the USDA RD grant application and preliminary engineering report. The city learned last week that it will receive a $3.74 million grant and a $1.26 million low-interest loan from USDA RD.

“This is great news for Croswell,” said Tom Fockler, foreman at the city’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). “The improvements will bring the plant up to the 21st Century. It was well past time to do something.”

The wastewater project is the second major infrastructure improvement project that the city is undertaking. Last year, it received a $1.9 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for water system improvements.

“This is a big deal,” said Sam Moore, city administrator. “This take a lot of pressure off an aging system and sets Croswell up for the next 40 or 50 years.”

The project calls for wastewater treatment plant and collection system improvements aimed at reducing excess inflow into the plant. The wastewater treatment and collection system, most of it constructed in the 1950s, have been discussed regularly at council meetings since June 2016.

The improvements being proposed were badly needed and identified in the city’s Wastewater Asset Management plan and 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.

“This gives me redundancy in the treatment process which I don’t have today and a second clarifier,” said Ed Carstens, the city’s wastewater superintendent. “It’s not going to fix all of our problems, but the band aid is getting a lot smaller.”

Moore said the city recently refinanced its long-term debt and the cost-savings will be used to help pay back the 40-year low-interest loan for this project.

Consultant Gary Bartow, F&V’s East Michigan Group Manager who works out of the Midland office, credited the city’s “out-of-the-box thinking,” administration for being proactive on fixing the city’s aging infrastructure.

“I’ve been doing this for 42 years and this city administrator is the most-forward thinking individual to really help a community with its problems,” Bartow said. “Without leadership abilities, this stuff doesn’t happen.”

“It’s a great opportunity for the city and it’s a much-needed project,” Moore said. “It affords the city the opportunity to increase industrial, commercial and residential growth which increases taxes and revenues for the city.

“The timing of this grant is perfect for the community.”

The City of Croswell is located four miles east of Lake Huron along the Black River in southeastern Sanilac County. The city had 2,288 residents in 2017. The WWTP currently has just under 1,000 users. Users pay $43 per month.

Frank Pelc, a 13-year operator at the WWTP, grew up in Croswell and is excited to see the improvements being made.

“I think they will be a great addition to this facility,” Pelc said. “I think Croswell needs something like this because our infrastructure is really deteriorating.”


The Times Herald