2016-11-02 / Front Page

Almont, road commission receive grant money to assist with sewer projects

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 •
pfoley@mihomepaper.comss

LAPEER COUNTY — The Village of Almont and the Lapeer County Road Commission were among 137 municipalities and agencies divvying up nearly $97 million in grants from the Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater (SAW) program to assist with costs of planning for their sewer system maintenance needs.

Almont will be getting $218,030 to complete inspection of its sewer system, portions of which date back to the 1920s.

Village clerk/treasurer Kim Keesler said the village first applied for the grant in 2013. This will the first time the village has conducted an asset management study of its sewer system.

Keesler said the grant will allow the village to video inspect portions of its system that are more than 20 years old. Keeseler added the grant will allow the village’s Dept. of Public Works to prioritize maintenance and repair plans.

The road commission will be getting $731,172 to create a GIS (geographical information system) to allow the agency to keep track of all of the storm sewers, catch basins, driveway tubes and culverts along the more than 1,500 miles of roads it maintains in the county.

Directing manager Rick Pearson noted there are culverts in the county that were installed so long ago that not only has the person who originally did the work retired, they’ve passed away.

“We’ve got foremen who’ve been here for years who are getting ready to retire. When they go, the information goes with them,” he said.

Once the hardware and software are put together the road commission will be better able to keep track of the agency’s assets and the utilities running near them. Pearson said once the GIS system is in place, supervisors in the field will be able to access information about culverts and other structures, along with their surrounding from a tablet.

Pearson said when the road commission first put in for the grant in 2013, he wasn’t sure it was worth the 10-percent match that’s required. “Do we pay for tech or do we pay for roads?” he said.

But he added, now he sees the value of the system. Over time, he said, the agency will be able to add information like the location of road signs.

“It’s going to be a useful tool,” he said.

Almont and the road commission’s grants had an element of luck. Signed into law in 2013, the SAW grant program began with $450 million available funding and municipal grant applications exceeded that amount. So far the program has awarded $365 million in grants on a lottery basis, leaving $85 million yet to be awarded.

The SAW program, a DEQ spokesman said, provides grant assistance for the development of asset management plans for wastewater and stormwater, stormwater management planning, stormwater and wastewater project planning and design, and testing and demonstration of innovative technology.

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