City leaders recently learned they will receive a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help upgrade the city's water system and increase its capacity.
The money will be used to construct a new 16-inch water main across the Grand River at 68th Avenue. The new main will create a backup in case the existing 16-inch main at that site ever has issues, as well as create increased capacity for both residents and businesses, according to Assistant City Manager Jonathan Seyferth.
It should be a huge boon for two local dairy manufacturers – Continental Dairy and fairlife.
Seyferth said the increased capacity will allow the companies to boost production, bringing in an estimated 50 new jobs.
How much capacity is increased will depend on the size of the pumps, noted Seyferth.
“We'll get additional flow into the city,” he said. “And from a redundancy perspective, it's a nice thing to have in case there's some type of issue with the (current) pipe under the Grand River. It would take several days to several weeks to get it fixed, especially if it's this time of year and there's ice on the river. From a security standpoint, this will keep water flowing into the city for residents and businesses. This will allow us additional capacity to support growth.”
Seyferth said industry uses about 80 percent of the city's total water usage.
“This will give us additional capacity which will allow them to use more water, which will allow them to create more jobs,” he said.
Construction is expected to start this summer with completion in 2019 or 2020.
“Our original timeline was to start construction this spring, but I think that's a little ambitious,” Seyferth said. “It will depend on when the funds become available.”
Anisa Williams, assistant to the city manager, said the city first applied for the grant more than a year ago.
“We did not qualify,” Williams said. “There were other projects that were higher ranked. The EDA said we should reapply and we did.”
Polkton and Allendale townships approved resolutions supporting the project.
“We're all tied into the Grand Rapids water system,” Williams said. “It comes through Allendale and Polkton townships. They all had to be part of the application process.”
Williams said Coopersville has been wanting an upgrade for many years.
“We have the very good problem of having a growing manufacturing base and growing industry in both agriculture and dairy processing,” she said. “We have more rooftops (residential homes ) to support as well. This will provide more water coming into the city, and also a backup.”