The successful transfer of the Downriver Sewage Disposal System from Wayne County to 13 regional communities under the leadership of Mayor Rick Sollars continues to rack up the awards.
Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority (DUWA) is scheduled to be honored by the Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Associations during its annual conference on May 21 at the Treetops Resort in Gaylord. The transfer is being awarded as the “Project of the Year” in “Government Cooperation.”
The same transfer was honored with the Downriver Chapter of the American Public Works Association “Government Cooperation Award” in December 2019.
Mayor Sollars is the chairman of the DUWA board, and played an integral role in last year’s transfer of the regional wastewater management system.
DUWA took over ownership and oversight of the Downriver Sewage Disposal System late last year. The system serves 13 tributary communities including Taylor. Others are Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Ecorse, Dearborn Heights, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Van Buren Township and Wyandotte.
It is the second largest wastewater system in Michigan with a service area population of 350,000.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans announced in early 2017 that the county, which has traditionally operated the system since 1962, was getting out of the business. The plan was for Wayne County to jettison the system and use the money from the sale to improve the financial outlook of its beleaguered pension system. Wayne County and the DUWA communities created a select committee to work out details of the $57.5M transaction.
Mayor Sollars sees the purchase of the system as a critical decision for not only Taylor, but for the region as a whole. Wayne County had an option to sell the system to a private company or to the participating communities. If the system had been sold to a private company, the residents of the communities would have faced much higher sewage rates. By obtaining and operating the plant, the communities can define rates, as well as operations. Since the participating communities banded together, they will define their own future, and be able to run it on a “net zero” basis and control of rates.
While DUWA maintains ownership and oversight of the plant, it contracted with Veolia North America to handle daily operations.