City of Dowagiac completes SAW grant

DOWAGIAC — The city of Dowagiac is now looking at next steps, following an analysis of the water and sewer systems and creation of a capital improvement plan.

Monday evening, the Dowagiac City Council approved a resolution to submit to the state the Department of Environmental Quality Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Grant Wastewater Asset Management Plan Certification of Project Completeness. The resolution signifies that the city has completed the SAW grant given by the state to assess the city’s water and sewer systems and has created a capital improvement plan for those systems.

“This is a very expansive project that we have been through,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “We have looked at every manhole, we have looked at every line. … It’s just been very well documented the condition of each and every manhole, the condition of every pipe, the condition of the equipment at our wastewater treatment plant.”

Kevin Marks, a project manager with Wightman, the agency that completed the study, presented findings of the study at Monday’s meeting. In his presentation, Marks said there were 110 projects on the plan and noted that there were several pipes and man holes that needed repairs or replacement. He said that many of the projects could be done without a full replacement and could be completed with minimal disruption to city residents. The other piece of the plan was looking at the equipment the wastewater treatment plant to determine a replacement schedule for the equipment based on when it was installed and typical manufacturer lifespan.

“These are the types of projects that are in our capital improvement plan that we are recommending,” Marks said.

The capital improvement will span 20 years, and over the course of that time period, will cost $10.6 million.

Anderson said that though the $10.6 million price tag may seem daunting, the city was already looking at and saving for several projects in the capital improvement plan, and that the city is already looking at rates and ways to pay for the projects included in the capital improvement plan.

The council will meet in January to look at the financials further and to discuss rate setting, Anderson said.

“While it is a big number, we have the ability to fund some through our ways, so the extended amount for most customers, this is going to be a manageable piece,” Anderson said. “[The resolution] is what we will report to the state at how we are looking at this and that we have a legitimate financial plan in place that could address these needs.”

Mayor Don Lyons said he was proud of the work the city did with the SAW grant assessment and that he is confident the city will be able to maintain the city’s infrastructure going forward.

“We as both an administration and elected officials have a responsibility to look at every opportunity and every option, and I think we have done that,” he said. “We have a comprehensive plan going forward. … We are starting to take those next steps this evening.”

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