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Sewer authority eyes grant to help fund $8.5M project

Alex Doty • Jun 28, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The Grand Haven-Spring Lake Sewer Authority is embarking on a process to make more than $8 million worth of upgrades to certain treatment plant components and processes over the next several years.

To help offset the cost, the Sewer Authority Board is pursuing a $2.8 million grant application to the federal Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, which would cover 33 percent of the total.

“Right now, we think there is a 50/50 chance that we will be successful,” said Gordon Gallagher, Spring Lake Township manager and member of the Sewer Authority Board. “We’re hoping that our elected officials will support our project and that our application will be successful.”

According to Gallagher, the grant would help fund improvements that would provide increased capacity for the treatment plant. The capacity is needed to ensure certain industrial manufacturers will remain in the region.  

“We want to do projects that support them, and this is a project that would support our industrial customers,” he said.

From 2010-16, Spring Lake Township manufacturers have added about 300 new jobs and invested about $40 million into their manufacturing facilities, Gallagher said.

“We think that the economy is going to continue to strengthen,” he said. “We want to be sure that the infrastructure is available.”

In addition to the potential grant funding, the Sewer Authority would likely borrow by issuing bonds for the remainder of the project costs.

“We recognize that this is a vital part of our infrastructure and our industry depends on that,” Gallagher said.

The Sewer Authority is eyeing three parts to the project: improvements to the pump station on the north side of the river; upgrades to the pipeline that goes under the river; and an improved headworks building at the treatment plant, which is used to screen and remove debris that can’t be treated as part of the biological treatment process. 

Gallagher noted that the Sewer Authority is in the pre-application phase, or very early in the grant-writing process.

“If your project has merit, (the federal agency will) move you to the next phase, which is an application,” he explained. “If your application is selected, then you will be funded.”

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