Large USDA Grant Helps Fife Lake with Urgent Sewer Upgrades

The Fife Lake Utility Authority (FLAUA) at Fife Lake, Mich. had a big problem and little money in their reserves to fix sewer issues.

And the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) was pushing the northern Michigan utility authority for repair or replacement of their leaking lagoon liners which were at the half-century old wastewater treatment plant.

The FLAUA board decided to hire a consulting engineer to help them and they suggested the problem should be thoroughly evaluated to find the best solutions.

With some out-of-the-box thinking, Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) assisted FLAUA as their engineers, in applying for and receiving a $700,000 MDEQ SAW grant to evaluate the system, develop an Asset Management Plan and complete the project planning.

“We were very fortunate to get a SAW grant – with just a 10-percent match to study the whole system,” said Lisa Leedy, FLAUA’s board president.

A thorough exam of the sewer system revealed some major issues like failing pump stations, the lack of emergency alarms and excessive inflow/infiltration in the sewer system. With most of the system 50 years old, many parts had also surpassed their designed lifespan and were putting the 617-acre lake and the surrounding watershed at risk. Improvements totaling nearly $7 million were recommended.

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