Request for Funding Associated with
DUWA’s UV Replacement Disinfection Project
Who is DUWA
- DUWA owns the Downriver Sewage Disposal System (DSDS), which includes nearly 70 miles of interceptor system (inclusive of a wet weather tunnel) and the 2nd largest wastewater treatment facility in the State.
- DUWA had been in permit compliance since it took over the system in late September 2018. Unfortunately, DUWA recently experienced its first permit exceedance in early March 2023. The permit exceedance was for fecal levels. The permit exceedance relates to DUWA’s need to replace the existing UV Disinfection system.
- DUWA is a community owned utility that serves 280,000 residents in 13 Downriver communities, including Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren Township, and Wyandotte.
System History & Cost Sensitivity
- DUWA purchased the system from Wayne County in late September 2018, after the County decided to transition out of providing regional wastewater services.
- DUWA provides critical wastewater to a service area that includes 16% that live below the poverty limit, 62% that are non-working class, and 37% that are non-white.
- Two of DUWA’s communities are disadvantaged (33% and 43% average poverty level).
- The COVID pandemic has greatly impacted the operating cost of the facility. Soaring inflation and a volatile chemical and utility commodity market have caused the system to recognize over an 5% rate increase for our current rate year.
DUWA has been updating the wastewater treatment facilities through various capital projects since acquiring the system from Wayne County. One of the larger short-term capital projects that has been identified is replacement of the Ultraviolet Disinfection System. DUWA has been informed by the equipment manufacturer that this equipment is being phased out with newer, more efficient equipment and that the existing equipment will no longer be supported in a few years. A benefit of the new equipment is lower electrical operating costs.
The new equipment has different characteristics from the existing equipment, so a direct change-out of equipment is not feasible. Therefore, significant structural re-work will likely be needed as part of this project. DUWA has engaged a qualified engineering firm to develop alternatives, including preparation of cost estimates.
DUWA provides a critical service to the Downriver communities in Wayne County by providing wastewater utility services and protecting the water quality in the Detroit River. Disinfection is critical for wastewater treatment to support public health. UV disinfection destroys the majority of bacteria and other organisms present in the wastewater before discharge to the Detroit River.
By keeping the wastewater utility rates affordable for our 370,000 residents and protecting our world-class water resources, we continue to make Wayne County a desirable place to live and work. This project allows our facilities to service new customers by increasing our design peak flow rate.
DUWA has implemented several similar projects over the past 4 years. One of our projects increased the secondary treatment capacity of the facility by optimizing the use of the existing treatment tanks. By utilizing existing staff to implement some equipment upgrades and optimize the system during peak wet weather conditions, the originally planned project cost was significantly reduced, achieving the desired water quality objectives, while keeping costs down for our ratepayers. Most of the projects implemented over the past 4 years are smaller than the proposed project, but one project, the biosolids dryer project, was significantly larger than the proposed disinfection facility replacement project. This demonstrates DUWA’s ability to deliver our projects on time and within budget.
- The anticipated project cost is $10m.
- DUWA is soliciting project cost support from all available funding sources. Grants and low-interest loans would serve a direct benefit to all 13 downriver communities as this would reduce the required rate increase to the communities.
- Funding Sources Explored To Date
- DUWA has requested ARPA assistance from Wayne County, but has not received notification of project selection. DUWA seeks to secure $5m in ARPA dollars. DUWA will provide a 50% local match ($5m). DUWA submitted a request to the Wayne County ARPA portal in May 2022. DUWA held a webinar on this request on June 2, 2022. A resolution demonstrating the Board’s support for receipt of ARPA monies is available here. Eleven of DUWA’s thirteen communities passed a similar resolution at their local level. Those resolutions are available here.
- DUWA submitted an Intent to Apply to EGLE in late 2022 and is currently developing a Project Plan for submittal by May 1, 2022. DUWA is not overburden per EGLE’s calculations and has maintained permit compliance since system ownership. EGLE’s new scoring criteria leans towards systems that need to be reactive to capital improvements as opposed to be proactive. While DUWA has communities that are overburdened, EGLE does not recognize these localized areas in their scoring criteria. EGLE considers the aggregate of DUWA’s service area. A public hearing for SRF financing will be held during DUWA’s April Board meeting at the City of Taylor.
- DUWA submitted a request for Congressional Directed Funding to Senator Gary Peters portal on March 10, 2023. A resolution demonstrating the Board’s support for receipt of CDF monies is available here. Similar CDF submittals will be made to other offices as their portals open.
- If grant or low-interest loan monies are not made available, then DUWA will need to proceed with bonding to secure sufficient funds to advance on this critical project.
- The existing UV system has a remaining useful life of <20 months (date of this posting is March 2023). It is critical the new system get online as quickly as possible to protect the public health and maintain permit compliance.
- The following schedule is currently anticipated:
- Engineering Design and Permitting – 2023
- Construction – 2024 and 2025