October 23, 2014

Applying for SAW grant could be a lengthy process for Au Gres

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Au GRES — The city of Au Gres will be applying for a Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater (SAW) Program grant from the Department of Environmental Quality, but City Manager Pat Killingbeck said submitting the grant application will require some work.

Au Gres City Council members approved applying for the grant during their meeting Jan. 7.

Killingbeck said it will be a couple of months before the city can submit its application to the DEQ.

“It’s going to take us two to three months just to put together the documents before we submit,” she said. “I anticipate we’ll try to submit sometime in March.”

Killingbeck said city staff members will have to gather data on its current stormwater and sewer systems and potential problems the city feels could arise.

“We’ll be submitting what we feel are stress points — the things that we’re aware of are going to cause us problems down the road,” she said. “Our staff, with our engineer, will be evaluating manholes, catch basins.”

If Au Gres is approved for a grant, Killingbeck said the city will be able to have an extensive analysis of its sewer and wastewater systems completed. Killingbeck said even though the city will be doing a lot of research on its system while applying for the grant, receiving grant would give the city funding to have its system given a thorough analysis that could better identify problem areas and solutions to correct them.

Killingbeck said having a complete analysis would be beneficial for the aging system.

“We have a fairly good sewer plant, but our system’s getting old,” she said. “It was put in back in the ’70s. There could be some issues.”

After the analysis is complete, Killingbeck said the city would be able to apply for money from the DEQ that could be used for repairs or maintenance.

According to the DEQ website, a community can receive up to $2 million in SAW grant funds, with the first $1 million requiring a 10-percent local match and the second million requiring a 25-percent match. The website says if a community is approved for a SAW grant, it has three years to act on the project it is approved for.

“Grant recipient must proceed with a project for which grant funding is provided within three years of grant award or face repayment of the grant plus interest,” the website said. “For the asset management grant, this means significant progress as determined by the DEQ toward achieving the funding structure to implement the asset management program.”

For cities and other municipalities with wastewater and stormwater systems, there has been a buzz building about the SAW program over the past year, Killingbeck said.

“There’s been a lot of hype about it among municipalities,” she said. “We haven’t had something like this in — I’m going to say — five years.”

The DEQ website said the first day SAW grant applications were accepted was Dec. 2, and the DEQ received 673 applications totaling $541 million.

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