Muskegon Heights Sewer Assessment Could Lead to Grant Dollars, Road Repairs

Andrew Trzaska | June 10, 2013

Muskegon Heights will soon do an assessment of its sewer and stormwater infrastructure in hopes of qualifying for a large state grant.

The $4,000 wastewater and stormwater assessment is designed to allow the city to take stock of what the City has and what it needs to maintain its system.  Based on the findings, the City can then apply for a grant from the state for up to $500,000 to do repairs on the system if needed.

Barbara Marczak and Jim Hegarty both represented Michigan-based engineering firm Prein & Newhof at Monday’s meeting, where they talked about the assessment the company will perform for Muskegon Heights.  Both spoke to the greater benefits that the assessment could provide.

The assessment would give council and staff a comprehensive view of the system, piecing together the city’s current knowledge of the system with new details of their assessment.

“This is so you can get a better understanding of your assets and system when it comes to sewer water and stormwater,” said Hegarty.

He also emphasized that the grant has no local match, meaning the City of Muskegon Heights does not have to contribute toward any grant funds that may be awarded.

“It’s one of the better things I’ve seen come along,” said Hegarty. “It’s important for communities to get a handle of what they have underground.”

The fringe benefit of any work done with state grants is that it may include road repairs, something the city needs after slashing its road budget for several years. Many pipes run directly under roads, so any repairs might require road removal and resurfacing.

“Because of the age of the infrastructure, the location… where we have the most need, will hopefully be along a street because most of our infrastructure is tied to streets,” said City Manager Natasha Henderson.

The State’s grant fund is limited, however, totaling only $2 million. Therefore, Marczak, Hegarty and Henderson all emphasized the importance of doing the assessment early and preparing as much as possible before the grant application was available.

“We’re trying to get you to the head of the line, because the grant is first come first serve,” said Marczak. She stated that she was involved in creating the grant program that the state legislature approved.

The State of Michigan still needs to define the terms, so the open date for the grant is not yet confirmed. Marczak said that the open date might be in August or September, with a deadline in October of some time.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst