City to undertake major sewer repair project

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 13, 2013

GROSSE POINTE CITY — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

It’s an adage that proved true for City officials. After applying annually for state revolving loans for a major sewer project starting in 2009, the City finally learned that it would receive money from the state’s revolving loan fund this year, said City Engineer Stephen Pangori of Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick.

During a Jan. 28 City Council meeting, Pangori told officials that, on Jan. 14, they got word from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that their loan request for more than $3.44 million had made the cut for the fundable range this year.

“This is great news,” City Manager Pete Dame said.

About 90 percent of the engineering costs for the project — more than $125,000 total — are also eligible for a state grant, meaning that the City only needs to come up with about $13,000 for engineering fees, officials said.

Work to be undertaken consists of a combination of pipe- bursting and open-cut sewer repairs; full-length sewer lining from one manhole to the next; and sectional sewer lining where repairs without excavation can be undertaken, Pangori said.

The City received a $660,190 S2 grant in 2006 from the MDEQ to televise and evaluate the condition of most of the sanitary sewer lines in the community, Pangori said. As a condition of that grant, he said the City had to prepare a plan for repairs identified by the televising and apply for a state revolving fund loan to fix those. However, the City was initially unable to secure the loan from the state, despite repeated applications to the program. The engineers say it’s not known how much further the lines have deteriorated since the televising was done in 2006, and likely won’t be known until contractors excavate those lines.

Roughly 50 percent of the City’s aging sewer system is in bad condition, Pangori said. Prior to 2006, the City had done a decade’s worth of sewer lining, he said. In recent years, the City hasn’t been able to undertake as many infrastructure projects because of the decline in tax revenue caused by the drop in property values.

Dame said they’re hoping to make needed repairs to prevent another major problem like the sewer collapse last year on Rivard and University, which required costly emergency repairs and caused sewage backups.

And, proving another old adage to be true, good things come to those who wait.

“In the last year, the interest rates went from 2.5 percent to 2 percent,” Pangori told the council.

The City Council unanimously approved authorizing the city manager to execute the project schedule, the engineering agreement with AEW and the S2 grant resolution seeking the 90 percent reimbursement for engineering costs.

City officials said the state loan for the project itself would be paid back out of the water and sewer fund. Work is expected to start this year and continue into 2014. The project is part of the City’s list of capital improvements for the next five years.

“It’s a major, major project,” Dame said.