The MITA-led push for the new DEQ Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grants are beginning to see action, as nearly 600 communities throughout Michigan applied for the new grant money late last year. The first round of grants are being awarded this spring, and Governor Snyder’s budget recommendation included $97 million to fund nearly 90 communities to develop new asset management programs.
Michigan’s sewer infrastructure is aging, and heavy rains are taxing water treatment facilities, allowing raw sewage into the environment. The intent of this new program through the DEQ is to help communities get a clear picture of the condition of their underground water and sewer infrastructure, so they can plan for improvements in the future.
MITA is also looking at long-term benefits through the new program by working with the legislature to collect data from these communities as it becomes available. Getting a picture of how our underground system looks throughout the entire state will allow for even more opportunities to help improve those systems. Like our roads and bridges have in the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council, our underground infrastructure should have a similar way of publically rating its system statewide.
Unfortunately the grant money does not need to result in construction immediately. According to the DEQ, “Grants for wastewater asset management plans must show significant progress towards a funding structure within three years. Stormwater asset management plans must be implemented. Stormwater management grants must develop a plan. Grants for planning and design of sewage or stormwater treatment works and NPS must issue a notice to proceed or a similar document within three years of the grant award. Innovative technology grant recipients must agree to implement a full scale project if shown to be feasible.”
However, if a community receives a SAW loan, construction must occur. Again, according to the DEQ: “A municipality can obtain a SAW loan for construction activities if the project is addressing a water quality issue and is identified in an asset management program, or approved stormwater management plan, or includes innovative technology approved by the DEQ.”
This is encouraging news for the underground industry, as communities will begin to see how much need for improvement there is in their underground infrastructure. MITA will continue to monitor these grants as they are being awarded and as the asset management plans are developed.
For more information or questions, please do not hesitate to contact Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 517-347-8336.