Ann Arbor, Mich., officials are preparing for upgrades to the city’s aging drinking water infrastructure.

The city is in the planning stages of a project to rehabilitate its water treatment plant at an estimated cost of $108 million. Officials signed a $5.06-million contract with AECOM Great Lakes Inc. earlier this year to develop a plan for the project.

The work will focus on rehabilitating a portion of the plant built in 1938, including replacing three softening basins, demolishing sludge storage tanks, repairing or replacing sludge thickeners, installing a permanent UV system and other improvements. 

The state is giving Ann Arbor $1.38 million toward its drinking water system upgrades as part of its Michigan Clean Water Plan grant program, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced July 18 in a statement. 

State Grant Program

The state grant program, which is run through Michigan’s Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, directs federal funds to replace lead service lines and other programs to address contaminants or otherwise improve drinking water infrastructure following the Flint, Mich., water crisis. The program has invested $124 million to date of about $207 million made available for drinking water through the 2020 Michigan Clean Water Plan investment. 

Ann Arbor city administrator, Milton Dohoney, said the city would put the money toward replacing its raw water pump station.

The city selected Weiss Construction Co. as the general contractor for the pump station project, awarding the company a $4.7-million contract for the work. Construction is expected to start this year and last through 2025. 

“This station was constructed in 1949, and this project will allow the city to replace aging infrastructure,” Dohoney said. “Once complete, this project will improve water supply reliability for the city’s 125,000 customers.”

The projects are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to maintain the availability of safe drinking water. In recent years, the city installed new filters to remove potentially harmful PFAS chemicals from drinking water and added a temporary ultraviolet disinfection system to treat water for cryptosporidium parasites. The city has also moved to install monitoring wells to ensure the water supply is protected from contamination. 

Local officials had also considered connecting to a regional water supply rather than rehabilitating the local infrastructure. However, a study estimated the regional connection plan would cost about $355 million, which is more than three times the cost of rehabilitating the water treatment plant.

Protecting Safe Drinking Water

The state grant program’s recent round of funding also includes grants to the East Lansing-Meridian Water and Sewer Authority, the city of Owosso and village of Shelby for drinking water system upgrades. There is also a grant for Benton Charter Township to remove PFAS and other contaminants from water, and a drinking water asset management grant for the city of Romulus.