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Plan unveiled to pay for $11 million in upgrades to St. Clair water plant

A screenshot of bond councilor Thomas Colis outlining on Jan. 16 the three-part plan to pay for upgrades to the water treatment plant in St. Clair.

By Jim Bloch

The city of St. Clair is facing a $10.94 million project to bring its water plant up to current standards and to expand the facility’s treatment capacity from three million to four million gallons of water per day.

The plant is 42 years old.

The city’s bond councilor Thomas Colis, of Miller Canfield, presented a plan to pay for the work to the city council at its regular meeting Jan. 16.

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A grant through the American Rescue Plan for $2,733,750 will pay for 25 percent of the project. A low-interest loan from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for $2,513,230 will pay for close to another quarter of the work; the interest rate on a 20-year loan would be 1.875 percent; a 30-year loan would be 2.125.

The last half of the project, $5,688,020, would be paid for by selling capital improvement bonds.

Under the plan, the city would pass resolutions promising to pay for the loan and the bonds. The project would go out to bid in late May to determine the actual price of the project.

The work

Six recommendations for improvements come from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and a dozen-and-a-half are recommendations from plant staff.

The state’s recommendations included upgrades to the material — sand and anthracite — used to filter the raw water, improvements to the coagulant system used to fuse particles in the water to allow them to settle out and installing a new backup generator.

The recommendations of plant staff included installing new automated filter control valve actuators and new valves; replacing existing flow meters with magnetic flow meters; switching from a manual to automatic chemical feed system; installing a new rapid mix coagulant system and a backup; upgrading to a vertical paddle wheel flocculator system; adding tube settler modules to slow the sedimentation rate; installing a new vacuum-style sludge collector system; adding backwash pump redundancy; expanding the shorewell pump building in Palmer Park to store the chlorine used for zebra mussel control and a new backup pump; upgrading the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system with one designed specifically for water plants; replacing the electrical system; replacing roofs at the plant and shorewell building within next 20 years; and improving the HVAC and plumbing systems, including installing an emergency shower and locker room sink.

To accommodate the massive new addition to the Magna Electric Vehicle Structure plant now under construction on the city’s north end and to meet new residential demand, the plant’s capacity will be expanded from three to four million gallons per day.

The work would take one-and-a-half to two years to complete.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at

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