September 18, 2014

Saganing Chippewa tribe building water plant near casino

Kevin Bunch
Work has continued on the Saginaw Chippewa water plant since the groundbreaking in July. It will distribute water to the casino, tribal residents, and other businesses.
By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STANDISH – The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is constructing a water plant south of the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino as part of a push to develop its own water infrastructure system.

The project began July 15, according to Frank Cloutier, public relations director for the tribe, and work will continue through the winter and next year on a 17-month schedule.

He said the construction project is employing 115 people, and once complete the plant will employ six others who are currently being trained. RCL Construction out of Sanford is doing work on the plant itself, and Cloutier said they are trying to work with local construction companies for other projects, such as roads.

Cloutier said the tribe’s leaders knew the surface water quality was poor when work started on the casino, and that they would need to find another source.

Proposals with local governments failed, he added, and the Saginaw Midland Municipal Water Supply Authority by-laws, written 65 years ago, did not allow the authority to sell water wholesale to Native American jurisdictions.

After the by-laws were finally changed in Lansing, he said, work began on the plant.

The water and wastewater treatment plant, once completed, will service the Saginaw Chippewa community, the casino, and other businesses owned by the tribe. Cloutier said it will be capable of supporting growth, though it will be limited to serving only tribal members.

“It just depends on the development of the infrastructure and how far we take it,” Cloutier said.

Cloutier said in July the plant will operate as far north as Sagatoo road and M-13 so that it can reach the Eagle Bay Marina.

Until the plant comes online, the city of Omer trucks around 11,000 gallons water to the casino daily, and wastewater is disposed of in a septic field. Other members and businesses of the tribal community get water from wells.

Cloutier said it will be cheaper for the community overall to use the plant rather than relying on the existing infrastructure and water rates from other communities. He estimated the tribe would save $10 million a year, outside of the cost of building the plant itself.

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