MBA Announces $3.75 Million in Federal Appropriations for Mid-Michigan

After passing in the U.S. House and Senate, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023 was signed by President Joe Biden on December 29. The Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure announced that a total of $3.75 million was included in this legislation for three local flood reduction and resiliency projects, thanks to the committee’s work with local partners and legislators.

“We thank our representatives in Washington, D.C. – especially Congressman John Moolenaar and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters – for including our requests for fiscal year 2023, which were included in the final omnibus funding bill,” said Tony Stamas, MBA President and CEO. “Like the federal project funding we received for 2022, these 2023 funds will help with mid-Michigan’s restoration and resiliency building after recent flood events.”

The appropriations bill included these projects and policy direction:

  • $1 million for the City of Midland – Sylvan pump station detention basin project
  • $2 million for the MyMichigan Medical Center Midland – boiler plant and flood resiliency project
  • $750,000 for Midland County – floodplain reconnection and enhancement project
  • Report language that directs the coordination between five federal agencies to support environment-based flood mitigation measures

Sylvan Pump Station Detention Basin

During the 2017 flood, neighborhoods upstream and downstream from the Sylvan pump station were impacted severely, causing extensive private property damage in excess of $20 million. An estimated 300,000 gallons of wastewater bypassed the Sylvan pump station and ended up in the Valley pump station district. As a result, the City of Midland is installing a one-million-gallon detention basin to hold the excess flow that overwhelmed the Sylvan pump station previously. A pump station will be added to the existing station to pump excess wastewater into the basin when necessary. Part of Midland’s larger Concept 5 Sewer Improvement Plan, this detention basin is expected to benefit the Sylvan area by alleviating overburdened sewer pipes during significant events, while having a positive impact downstream as well.

“This detention basin will provide storage capacity at three times the volume we saw with the 2017 flood,” said Brad Kaye, Midland City Manager. “This increase in storage capacity not only provides additional security and resiliency, it also creates more flexibility for the City in controlling how much of the water is injected back into the system following a flood event. Ground saturation, rain volume and routine seasonal impacts to the City’s collection system can vary. This increase in storage is simply more beneficial.”

In December, the construction of this new detention basin began in Russell Park near the Sylvan lift station on Sylvan Lane. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

The $1 million grant for the City of Midland comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) program. The City is expected to provide matching funds under EPA STAG program requirements, and the City is applying for state revolving loan funds for this project and other components of the sanitary and storm sewer improvements.

MyMichigan Resiliency

MyMichigan Medical Center Midland sustained damage exceeding $13 million from the May 2020 flood. The hospital experienced power outages in several care units and the cafeteria/kitchen; nine feet of sewer effluent in the lower level; and flooding of campus facilities, including the EMS/ambulance facility, urgent care operations, and the boiler plant. The boiler plant – which provides steam for critical functions at the hospital and campus – was surrounded by five feet of water. The boilers had to be shut off because of floodwaters enveloping the natural gas meters that feed them. Also, the underground pipes connecting the boiler plant to the hospital were damaged beyond repair. A temporary boiler system with insufficient capacity was brought online to serve on an interim basis.

“MyMichigan Medical Center is working with the Midland Business Alliance and other local partners and stakeholders to recover and rebuild from the devastating impact of the 2020 flood,” said Rob Young, MBA, CHFM, NICET, System Director of Facilities and Construction, MyMichigan Health. “The construction of a new boiler plant, located outside of the flood-prone area on higher ground, is essential to support critical functions of the hospital and campus, including heating, humidification, sterilization processes, hot water, and the supply of 160-degree water required for operations of the hospital’s kitchen.”

The $2 million grant comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Facilities Construction and Equipment funding. This funds part of MyMichigan Medical Center’s larger project to relocate mechanical and electrical infrastructure for greater flood resiliency. The $2 million will fund the early construction phase of the estimated $8 million boiler plant to be constructed on the south side of the Orchard Building. This includes site work and foundations (excavation, footings, piers, foundation wall, floor slab, site concrete and asphalt) and the core and shell (structural steel, roofing, masonry, doors, glass, fire suppression, electrical and HVAC). Separately, the Michigan legislature approved $5 million in 2022 for this project.

This first phase will be completed in 2023, with the new boilers installed and operational by 2024. To improve resiliency, the boiler plant will have a diesel backup system for continuity of operations in case of natural gas service disruption.

Midland County Floodplain Reconnection and Enhancement

Midland County has hundreds of miles of “trapezoidal” drains, which are deep, V-shaped open ditches.

“There are two reasons why this design is flawed,” said Joe Sova, Midland County Drain Commissioner. “Historically, soil from the trench was piled up on the sides when these drains were constructed. This practice ‘disconnected’ – or caused a barrier between – the naturally present floodplains and their adjacent watercourses. Second, the shape of the drains increases stormwater velocity during intense precipitation. Today, we understand that we need to slow down the velocity of stormwater to reduce downstream flooding and soil erosion.”

Sova and Midland County are working with the Nature Conservancy, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), private landowners and other local partners and stakeholders to redesign traditional drains, improve stormwater drainage and reconnect floodplains.

The $750,000 grant comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, Conservation Operations. This will support a project to create ecologically functional floodplains and to improve stormwater drainage, allowing stormwater to flow into formerly disconnected floodplains. Traditional trapezoidal channels will be converted to sustainable, two-stage channels to mimic natural stream characteristics.

“A two-stage drainage ditch slows stormwater velocity during large runoff events, reduces soil erosion, encourages vegetation growth and wildlife habitat, improves soil health and water quality, and reduces damage caused by floods,” said Sova. “This allows the deposit of sediments adjacent to the main channel, keeping those deposits from filling or obstructing the ditch farther downstream or from eventually reaching the Saginaw Bay. This proven design also allows the main channel of the drain to be self-cleaning – eliminating or significantly reducing the amount of mechanical dredging needed to keep the ditch functioning.”

Federal Coordination on Flood Mitigation

Finally, report language was included in five individual fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills in the passed legislation. The legislative report language urges the coordination on environment-based flood mitigation measures among five separate federal agencies: EPA, USDA, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

18.7:1 “ROI” from Committee

The MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure was formed in 2021 to examine infrastructure issues that impact the quality of life and economic vitality of mid-Michigan. Legacy flooding challenges and related sanitary sewer issues are its first focus.

Ten community organizations and businesses provided early funding to support the committee’s efforts: Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, Corteva, Dow Company Foundation, Fisher Companies, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, Midland Area Community Foundation, MyMichigan Health, Patricia and David Kepler Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, and Three Rivers Corporation.

“We raised almost $900,000 initially from our donors. To date, the return on their community investment has been multiplied by 18.7 thanks to the efforts of our committee and our legislators. We feel proud that these $16.4 million in grants will help rebuild from the floods and make us more resilient in the future,” said Lee Ann Keller, co-chair of the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure.

In addition to the latest $3.75 million in appropriations, the committee helped bring an additional $12.65 million to the Midland area in 2022. This includes:

  • $1.65 million in FY 2022 Federal Community Project Funding – $750,000 for the City of Midland storm/sanitary sewer improvements project, $500,000 for Midland Center for the Arts revitalization following flooding, and $400,000 for Midland County flood data collection tools/planning
  • $3 million estimated savings from FEMA cost-share adjustment for 2020-21 major disasters (adjusted from a 75% federal share to “no less than 90% of eligible costs”)
  • $3 million state appropriations for flood reduction planning (engineering services for shorter-term projects and second USACE study)
  • $5 million from Michigan Public Acts of 2022 toward the MyMichigan Medical Center Midland boiler plant/flood resiliency
Supporting Video

This video is a useful illustration of the goals of the Midland County drain/floodplain initiative and the two-stage drainage ditch:

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