Hoping to avoid increases in sewer rates, the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority is seeking federal funds to help pay for a disinfection system that needs to be replaced.
A model resolution was provided to the 13-member DUWA Board of Directors at its July 14 meeting. Several communities have pledged to put this item on their agenda at their next council or township council meeting.
DUWA is asking member communities to approve the resolution asking the State of Michigan and Wayne County to allocate funds from the America Rescue Plan Act in support of the authority.
The cities and townships that use the downstream sewage treatment facility and that make up the authority are Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren and Wyandotte.
The State of Michigan and Wayne County separately received funds from the federal government under ARPA to distribute to municipalities within their jurisdiction. Funds can be used for public health and infrastructure projects, including infrastructure investments.
DUWA officials said they had to replace a nearly 25-year-old ultraviolet disinfection system due to obsolescent spare parts.
The estimated cost of the replacement is $8 million, which, if fully funded by DUWA, would put “great pressure on the sewer rates charged to its municipal customers.”
The community presented this project to the elected representatives of the member communities and requested their support via this resolution.
Senior project manager Lambrina Tercala said that since DUWA does not receive funds directly from ARPA, managers had to find other sources of funding. However, DUWA consultants learned that communities were submitting applications to the county asking for ARPA dollars. The authority’s consultants circulated the idea to the DUWA board for consideration and the members agreed that this project should meet ARPA’s funding requirements.
The ultraviolet disinfection system is extremely important because it disinfects the wastewater before discharging it into the Detroit River.
Tercala said UV inactivates or destroys disease-causing organisms to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases downstream of the sewage treatment plant outlet.
“UV sanitizes wastewater by transferring energy from UV lamps to microorganisms,” Tercala said. “UV energy, or radiation, penetrates the cell wall of microorganisms to destroy their ability to reproduce.”
The current UV system is a Trojan UV4000 system. According to Tercala, production of certain parts and maintenance items is being discontinued by the manufacturer. This means that the system has reached its remaining useful life and needs to be replaced.
Once member communities return their signed resolutions, the authority will forward them to Wayne County, and possibly the State of Michigan.
Wayne County is the decision maker in the process. Projects selected for ARPA funding will be subject to 50/50 matching funding.