MACKINAC ISLAND — Mackinac Island is getting $15 million in grant funding to build a new wastewater treatment plant.
Mackinac Island's grant is part of $81.2 million in state funding as a part of the MI Clean Water initiative, used to help different communities upgrade water-focused infrastructure, protect health and the environment.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced the funding Friday.
With the money coming from EGLE's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), officials said Mackinac Island is going to be on the way to rebuilding a new wastewater treatment plant.
According to Allen Burt, director of the Mackinac Island Department of Public Works, the original treatment facility was built in 1970 and it was reaching the end of its lifespan.
He said the city was approved for 50 percent of the funding for the originally estimated cost of $30 million to complete the project. He said bids came in much higher than anticipated, and so the project will end up costing $77 million.
Burt said Mackinac Island was able to get such a large amount of funding because it's considered to be a "disadvantaged" population. The island, which has a population around 500, sees thousands of visitors and tourists a year. The cost would be "quite burdensome" to the customers living on the island.
He said the city got another grant from the state as well, also helping offset the total cost.
To get the funding for the project, Burt said the loans are allowed to be taken out with a low interest rate, in the city of Mackinac Island's case, at 1.875 percent. The city took out a 30-year loan.
"But without all of these these grants, we wouldn't be able to do it," Burt said. "We did have to go back to the state and request that they up our loan amount to our bonding limit of $24 million for this project, but we are making it work somehow. But we are still seeking creative financial solutions."
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The wastewater treatment plant will be almost entirely new. A few portions of the current plant will be reused and repurposed, Burt said. He said the state park leased two and half acres to the city to build the treatment plant, and tree clearings and geotechnical surveys all took place before the bid process even began.
"It's the realization of many, many, many years of trying to get this project off the ground, and so we're all pretty excited that it's actually happening," Burt said. "None of us are excited with the price tag, but we're very grateful to have the grants coming in and appropriations coming in that we are to be able to make this happen."
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Mackinac Island gets $15 million grant for wastewater treatment plant