Township board votes to approve two DWSRF distribution system improvement projects

By Megan Kelley
During its meeting on May 7, the Independence Township Board of Trustees held two public hearings regarding the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Distribution System Improvements.
The first hearing regarded improvements for PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) mitigation, while the other involved a water main extension on Maybee Road.
After the public hearing, the board voted unanimously to adopt both resolutions.
While the resolutions were approved, it does not commit the township to any financial obligation but rather recognizes that improvements need to be made, acknowledges and adopts the project plans and designates a project representative.
At the meeting, the board heard from DPW Director David McKee as well as consultants from DLZ Engineering Services, Mike Leuffgen and Laura Gruzwalski.
PFAS mitigation
According to township documents, in 2018, PFAS was detected in the Clarkston Gardens wellhead and in 2020, was detected in the Chestnut Hills wellhead.
Both wellheads have been shut down, causing a reduced water supply to residents with 2.73 million gallons a day of lost capacity.
There are also concerns that residents with private wells could also be affected by the same PFAS contamination.
“The department of public works has identified an issue in the distribution system, drinking water system. A few years ago we discovered some PFAS contaminants. You know, that’s the buzz word that’s been going on for quite some time. We took that well out of service and with the help of the State of Michigan and EGLE we’ve been doing a lot of private well testing and investigating to find out where the source is coming from,” said McKee. “So, In order to address this issue we’ve also looked at extending water main throughout the township to residents who are on private wells who may, and we have confirmed, have PFAS in their private wells.”
The township expects to utilize the DWSRF, a low interest loan program that allows municipalities to borrow money to fix issues such as these and pay it back over several years.
The proposed project includes about 27,000 feet of water main extension to two township neighborhoods: Sunnydale (east of S. Main Street) and Hummingbird (north of Maybee Road) as well as along Eastlawn Avenue.
Cost attached to this project is estimated at $9,677,490. Potential schedule includes submitting draft plans in January of 2025, starting construction in August of 2025 and completing construction in November of 2025.
Water main extension
“This project is another water main extension. It’s very similar to what we just talked about with a couple of exceptions,” McKee said.
This project includes installing about 18,000 feet of water main extension to the streets in the Drayton subdivision that is bordered by Maybee Road and Pelton Road.
“Currently there is no water main at all on any of those streets (in the subdivision),” McKee said. “The goal is to provide not only fire service protection for all those streets, but also to provide safe drinking water in there.”
“This project is not under PFAS, I want to make that clear,” said McKee. “The groundwater over here is terrible. The Health Department for Oakland County has written support letters because private wells are under the jurisdiction of the Oakland County Health Department, we don’t have anything to do with them. They have asked us many times since I have been here, ‘are you ever going to put a water main down there? The water is terrible.’ We’ve had residents call. I’ve done some service lines that are not out of the norm of what we would do to get people water because the ground water over there is really bad. There have been some instances of leaking underground service tanks years ago.”
Funding for this project could be done through the DWSRF loan or, potentially, through United States Representative Lisa McClain’s discretionary fund.
According to McKee, the township has received word that their project was selected by Rep. McClain but still has several steps in Washington D.C. before the township can receive that money.
Because of this, McKee also noted that he doesn’t anticipate cost increases in order to pay for the project.
Estimated cost for this project rounds out to $7,805,985 and has a potential timeline that includes starting construction in September 2025 and finishing construction in November 2026.
Residents would not be required to connect to the water main and could still use their private wells, but the water main would be available for residents who wish to connect.
The township is expected to submit plans for both projects to EGLE by June 1.

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