Thursday, July 28, 2022

Romulus awarded $456,300 water study grant

The City of Romulus has been awarded $456,300 in a state Drinking Water Asset Management grant.

The grant, according to Romulus Department of Public Works Director Roberto Scappaticci, will allow the city locate and investigate any homes in the city that have lead pipes or connections to the city water service. The grants were awarded to fund the updating of municipal water service plans or to create a process to identify and work toward the removal of hazardous materials that are part of the distribution system, such as lead service lines.

“We are extremely excited about being approved for the Drinking Water Assessment grant,” said Romulus Mayor Robert McCraight. “Without the financial support from the State of Michigan, we would not be able to fund this program that will assist us in assessing our drinking water distribution system.  If not for this grant opportunity, the burden of funding such a program would have been fallen on the shoulders of our residents.” 

Scappaticci said the city has records from the 50s, 60s 70s and 80s that indicate the installation of lead water service lines, but those may not be at all accurate. “We want to find the lead installations,” he said.

The grant will not cover the entire cost of the investigation which Scappaticci estimated at about $700,000 to $800,000. He said the city will pursue other grant money and funding, to cover that expense and to ensure that the burden of replacing the lead lines still in service in the city “will not fall on the taxpayers.” This funding will be used only for the study and location of lead in the water service lines. 

Romulus applied for the grant funding in 2019 and continued to work with representatives of the Michigan Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Department (EGLE) during the process. Scappaticci said the department liked the concept Romulus presented.

“This was very competitive, only a handful of communities received grants, it's not like this was a blanket award,” he said. Only six communities in the state were awarded funding to pursue the location of lead water lines.

Work on identifying the lead lines or connections should begin in the summer of 2023, he said and residents will see only a little disruption in their front lawns. Scappaticci said the city will use a specialized procedure to vacuum up soil as they locate water lines which will leave a small, 18-inch hole. He said workers might need access to some homes to verify there is no lead in interior connections. All homeowners subject to the investigation would be notified in advance, he added.

“Not all residents will be subject to the investigation,” Scappaticci said. “Only those that fall in areas where lead was used.”

He said he was very pleased with the award as it was another effort to provide the most effective and safe water service. He explained that during his 12 years with Romulus, DPW department workers have been replacing any lead sewer lines they encounter during service. 

State Rep. Alex Garza (D-Taylor) said he was very pleased that Romulus was successful in receiving the funding. 

“We have earned a fantastic opportunity today. I am excited to announce that Romulus water suppliers received substantial funds to improve our community by providing carefully monitored drinking water and updated infrastructure. These funds will make our community safer - clean drinking water is most certainly a right to be grateful for.

“Recent floods and sewage concerns in my district emphasize the need for updates and improvements to our water infrastructure. The grant gives Romulus the resources it needs. It will significantly benefit our community by bringing us one step closer to ensuring everyone has access to clean, safe and affordable water.”

  The funding stems from a $4.8 billion bipartisan infrastructure plan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law earlier this year.