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Marquette County seeks funding for K.I. Sawyer water project

MARQUETTE — After a hiccup in the public notification stages, the Marquette County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution during a special meeting Monday that authorizes the application for the funding of a project plan for water system improvements at K.I. Sawyer.

The plan was initially rejected by the board at its regularly scheduled June 21 meeting due to a discrepancy in the public notification process. The initial notification stated that the cost of the project would cost an estimated $2 million and see an increase in residential water bills of around $6. The actual cost was estimated closer to $7.5 million and increase water bills by around $17 per month. After clearing up the discrepancy and communicating with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the board scheduled the special meeting to fit within the June 30 application deadline.

The board authorized U.P. Engineers and Architects to take charge of the project plan, which recommends the construction of new generators at existing wells, improvements to storage tanks and the refurbishment of elevated water tanks, among other items.

The initial funding for the project, if the application is approved by EGLE, would come from the state of Michigan Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

“Tonight, the adoption of this formal resolution is just the approval of the actual submittal of the application to see what kind of offer we get from the state,” said Matthew Treado of the UPEA. “Once we get that offer we can make a recommendation back to the county on what the actual, most cost-effective funding mechanism would be.”

The application for funding from the state is just one step in getting the process underway. The project will compare the Michigan Drinking Water State Revolving funding against other potential sources of funding for the project, chiefly the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

“This offer will be compared to other funding programs, most notably USDA Rural Development to ensure that we are obtaining the most cost-effective infrastructure improvements for our water customers,” Treado said. “I believe all of the funding that we’ve received in the past has been from USDA Rural development.”

In a letter to the board of commissioners, Treado said that the funding from the USDA may turn out to be the better option for the county.

“There is a good chance that the USDA RD will still have more attractive rates/terms/grant percentages for the K.I. Sawyer water system,” Treado wrote. “UPEA will be evaluating all options once a funding offer is made (and) will bring that information back to the county board for review, discussion (and) approval.”

Randy Crouch can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rcrouch@miningjournal.net.

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