MASON, Mich. — The wastewater treatment pant in Mason hasn't been updated since 1976, which means it's outdated and too small.
Last month nearly 4 million gallons of partially treated wastewater were bypassed into Sycamore Creek after heavy rainfall, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said that can't continue.
There's a nearly $20 million price tag on the city's proposed upgrades to the Department of Public Works and the wastewater treatment plant, but thanks to Rep. Elissa Slotkin advocating for the project, $3.5 million of that will be paid for by the federal government.
"We solicited proposals from local governments all across mid-Michigan in my district and we got a ton in, I think over 50, and we started vetting them and really digging in, and the project in Mason really survived the gauntlet of all these requirements and all this vetting," said Rep. Slotkin. "Then it passed all the sort of tests, not just in my office, but also in Washington with the Appropriations Committee. So, they got $3.5 million for this project and that was the highest amount of money that we received for any of our community projects. We're really happy for Mason."
The City of Mason wasn't the only mid-Michigan municipality to receive funding.
"In addition to the wastewater treatment plant in Mason, we did similar projects in Williamston, so, really close by, and also Fowlerville. They also won really big amounts. I think $3 million and $3.5 million as well," Rep. Slotkin said. "We really targeted rural communities because they often get overlooked by federal dollars, by the states, and we pushed for 10 projects and I was really thrilled that all 10 passed and are being funded."
If you add all of those projects up, mid-Michigan is getting a total of $16 million in federal funding.
As for the wastewater treatment plant project in Mason, Mason Mayor Russ Whipple said, "the rest of the project will be secured."
"There's some money that will come from our local development finance authority," Whipple said. "Then really, the balance is going to be picked up from user fees paying down bonds. We'll have to bond for it."
Whipple said user feeds could increase by up to 40 percent.
"But, the City of Mason's water and sewer rates are still going to be in the middle or the lower-half of anybody in the area," Whipple said.
The project will be done in two phases. The hope is that the Department of Public Works facility will be moved to Temple Street in 2023.
Whipple said the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant is probably a few years out.
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