The 24/7 contact number for all sewer related Issues is 311 or (616) 456-3000. The City of Grand Rapids has developed Customer Service Standards which can be found here.
The City of Grand Rapids wasn’t always a Utility of the Future. Grand Rapids, part of the struggling “rust belt” region, was suffering from declining general fund revenues from a weak economy after the collapse of the manufacturing industries. But the employees of the City of Grand Rapids knew that even in a declining economy, success was possible. We knew that we could come together, for the public good, and create an environment that raised everyone’s quality of life. The work completed over the last three decades has created an entirely new future for the city, and our culture has played a large role in that success. Our top-to-bottom transformation story is an incredible one, and one driven through the creation of a culture of innovation, collaboration, inclusiveness, continuous transformation, transparency and accountability. Not just buzz words to us, these words define our decision making each and every day to build a sustainable City platform.
Change often is driven through leadership, and that is also true for Grand Rapids. The City of Grand Rapids leadership style focuses heavily on a culture where employees are part of a collaborative team with an unwritten rule that ideas are encouraged and fostered. In recent years, several major projects have ushered in a new era that have secured a positive future for Grand Rapids for many years to come, while introducing our community to ideas that build a sustainable city. Embedding these practices and policies in to our work is what’s contributed to our success. Our concept to build a “Sustainable City Future” is written in our Fiscal Plan and is the driving force for many of our projects.
Combined Sewer Overflow Project
Like many municipalities, Grand Rapids had a combined sewer system starting in the 1900s. The city had 59 sewer overflow sites and discharges into our most precious resource, the Grand River. In 1969, we were allowing 12.6 billion gallons of raw, untreated sewage to flow into the river. Today, we are proud to say that after 27 years of working to separate the city’s sewer and sanitary systems, that number is zero. This project cost $400 million dollars, but was universally recognized for its importance to preserve the quality of our watershed for generations to come - something incredibly important for us in the Great Lakes region. A project of this magnitude crossed multiple departments within the city, and took tremendous buy-in from our tax and rate payers, as well as from our elected leadership.
Solar Array Field
Through an innovative public-private partnership, the City of Grand Rapids will complete an installation of a solar farm by the end of 2016. The solar farm will be located directly across the river from the Water Resource Recovery Facility and will send electricity back to the facility. Instead of buying energy from Consumer’s Energy, we’ll buy directly through a power purchase agreement to save the city upwards of $200,000 per year. The site of the solar field will be on an old landfill that was operated by the city as an open dump 1950 to 1967 and then as a sanitary landfill until 1973. Working with the EPA, the City of Grand Rapids was able to negotiate the solar array design that is currently underway.
Heat Recovery Project
A heat recovery project uses heat from the Water Resource Recovery Facility’s north blower building to heat the north secondary building. This measure is saving us $25,000 annually in natural gas reduction.
LED Lighting Conversion
A self-installed LED lighting conversion throughout the Water Resource Recovery Facility was implemented in 2014. Not only did this save time and money during the installation process, but we continue to see positive results in energy savings.
With an eye on staying on the forefront of modern technology, the Water Resource Recovery Facility began using new tools like a zero angle photo spectrometer and real-time controls. With these innovative tools, we are able to easily monitor processes at the facility quickly and more accurately.
The Water Resource Recovery Facility uses energy recovery from the facility’s final effluent to heat and cool the Environmental Services Department’s administration building. The facility also uses final effluent for operations and maintenance around the facility. Combined, these activities recover an estimated 360,000 gallons of water a day.
City-wide Green Infrastructure
The City of Grand Rapids has incorporated green infrastructure throughout the city whenever possible. This has been through the use of bioswales, rain gardens, porous pavement, and infiltration basins. The city also has a footing drain disconnection program and a goal to increase the tree canopy to 40% into the city’s landscape, all to help to reduce water pollution and manage stormwater. This has been possible due to the overwhelming public and private support in our city. In fact, Grand Rapids was named "America's Greenest City" by Fast Company magazine, was the first city to be recognized by the United Nations as a Regional Centre for Sustainable Development in 2009, and has the most LEED certified buildings per capita according to The U.S. Green Business Council. By being a leader in the country in these areas, we have created a city-wide culture among our staff and residents to adopt sustainable skills and practices in their own lives and businesses. For instance, we operate a Basin Buddy Program that encourages residents to adopt a catch basin in their neighborhood to keep them clear of debris. To date, the residents in Grand Rapids have officially adopted 106 catch basins.
Water Resource Recovery Facility Renamed
In December of 2015, the Grand Rapids City Commission officially approved the proposal to change the name of the wastewater treatment plant. Now known as the Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility, the name change is one more reflection of the city’s focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. It also highlights the City of Grand Rapids’ emphasis on contributing to a cleaner and safer environment. While the facility was constructed in 1931, through innovative leadership and an engaged workforce, the City of Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility has been able to expand its building and services to not just meet the needs of the city, but exceed them to truly be a Utility of the Future.
The Water Resource Recovery Facility treats 14,750 million gallons annually with a daily average of 40 million gallons and a peak of 90 million gallons per day.
Operation and Maintenance;
- The Water Resource Recovery Facility has a design capacity of 61.1 million gallons per day.
- The Market Avenue Retention Basin has a storage capacity of 30 million gallons and treatment capacity of 1.1 billion gallons a day.
- The Primary Effluent Retention Basin has a storage capacity of 10 million gallons.
- We operate 54 Sanitary Sewage Lift Stations, 9 Stormwater Stations, 4 Meter Stations, 100 Sewer Flow Monitors, 14 Rain Gauges, 1,100 miles of Sanitary Sewer, 23,347 Sanitary Sewer Manholes, 383 miles of Storm Sewer, 11,355 Storm Sewer Manholes, 17,800 Catch Basins, and 7 Air Quality Monitors located throughout West Michigan which analyze about 50 parameters each.
- Industrial Pretreatment Program;
- Issues, tracks, maintains, samples, and reports results for 85 significant industrial user permits.
- Tracks activities of over 6,000 non-domestic users throughout the system using questionnaires.
- IPP is responsible for industrial users in 8 outlying jurisdictions. To accomplish that task we must liaison and have each jurisdiction maintain equivalent ordinances that give IPP the authority to enforce those ordinances in those jurisdictions.
- Tracks pollutants and the effects on the Water Resource Recovery Facility by monitoring industrial sources of pollutants. This is done by using online analyzers located at strategic locations.
- Monitoring whole effluent toxicity on a periodic basis by collecting samples from the Water Resource Recovery Facility effluent for 5 days. Those samples are sent to an outside laboratory for toxicity testing.
- Laboratory performs about 90,000 analyses each year.