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City drinking water assessment grant approved

By Grace Lovins

The Birmingham City Commission approved an agreement with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) at their meeting on Monday, January 23, finalizing a grant award of roughly $745,700 for Drinking Water Asset Management.

The grant originally came out in 2020, according to city engineer Melissa Coatta. In October of last year, the city received notice that the state received additional funding for the grant program, giving Birmingham the opportunity to be awarded more grant money.

City staff have applied for multiple grants related to sewer and water planning and construction – at the commission's long range planning on Saturday, January 21, Coatta noted that the city will receive a total of over $2.1.4 million in grants over the next two to three years. The grant total is roughly $745,700, split between two items: $357,000 for a water asset management plan and $388,680 for water service line material verification program. According to Coatta, part of the agreement with EGLE is to have all projects completed by December 15, 2025.

The water asset management plan is categorized into ‘field tasks’ and ‘plan.’ Field tasks include identification assessments and GPS surveys of items on the water system like line valves and fire hydrants, while plan includes taking the information collected from the field tasks and running a pipe integrity analysis and risk assessment through a computer program.

The city has never had an asset management plan created for the water itself but has previously created asset management plans for sanitary and stormwater, stated Coatta. The water asset plan would help identify issues with the line valves and allow them to better plan for repairs.

“When you have a water main break, and you don’t have all the valves working and it affects the larger area,” said city manager Tom Markus. “You can isolate smaller areas for a water main break if all your valves are in good working order, but not all the valves are in good working order.”

Funds received for the water service line material verification program will be a continuation of the 2022-2023 program with the intention of covering 364 verifications. The number of verifications, said Coatta, was a requirement set by the state given the information the city provided on the assumed number of lead service lines, based on city records.

Birmingham has been working to identify and replace lead service lines in the city for about two years, and so far, has completed verifications at points two and three – before and after curb stops at the boundary line between private homeowners and public property. They still need to follow up with the verifications for point one – interior services lines inside the residences – for 189 houses.

Without the grant, funding for these projects would have been taken from water rates, said Markus. Commissioners voted unanimously, 7-0, to approve the agreement between the city and EGLE.


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