MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure Celebrates $1.65 Million in Federal Appropriations for Mid-Michigan

After passing in the U.S. House and Senate last week, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022 was signed by President Joe Biden on Tuesday, March 15. The Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure is celebrating $1.65 million in funding and a significant policy change included, thanks to the committee’s work with local partners and legislators.

“Thanks to our representatives in Washington, D.C. – especially Congressman John Moolenaar and Senator Debbie Stabenow – our specific requests for fiscal year 2022 were included and passed in the final omnibus bill,” said Tony Stamas, President and CEO of the MBA. “These funds will help with mid-Michigan’s rebuilding and restoration after the 2020 flood – and will help build resiliency for the future.”Midland Business Alliance - Advisory Committee on Infrastructure

The funding bill included these projects and policy:

  • $750,000 for the City of Midland storm and sanitary sewer improvement project
  • $500,000 for the Midland Center for the Arts revitalization project
  • $400,000 for the County of Midland’s Tittabawassee River Watershed data collection and resiliency planning
  • Bill language that adjusts the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) federal cost-share for major disasters in calendar years 2020 and 2021 from 75 percent to no less than 90 percent of eligible costs of such assistance
  • Report language that directs the coordination between five federal agencies to support environment-based flood mitigation measures

Midland Storm/Sanitary Sewer Improvement

The $750,000 grant for the City of Midland comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) program. This funding will support the planned sanitary sewer lining and manhole rehabilitation project to improve the sewer system and build resiliency for future flooding and rain events. This project is designed to help address the high rates of infiltration and inflow (I&I) of rainwater into the sanitary sewer system. I&I removal involves the lining of existing sanitary sewers to make them more watertight. It also involves the rehabilitation of manholes to provide a better seal against rainwater and overland stormwater flow. By addressing the I&I issue, there should be fewer sanitary sewer backups into basements. It would also result in less volume flowing into Midland’s wastewater treatment facility during rain events, putting less strain on this critical piece of infrastructure. 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.

“The City has an ambitious program in place that is intended to improve the condition and effectiveness of our storm and sanitary sewer systems,” said Brad Kaye, Midland City Manager. “We appreciate this federal funding and the role that our federal legislators have played in securing this for our city, as it will certainly help ease the demands on the City’s budget.”

The Center for the Arts Revitalization Project

The $500,000 for the Center comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Economic Development Initiative (EDI) grant funding. The 2020 flood devastated archives, exhibits and collections that are key to the history and culture of the region and the state. In addition, the main Center for the Arts building and its high-voltage electrical system, the Herbert H. Dow Museum, the Doan History Center, and the Bradley Home and Carriage House sustained several million dollars of damage. The HUD EDI grant is designed to help fund structural improvements for the Center buildings.

“We are excited about this important grant, which will help us complete vital restoration projects across Midland Center for the Arts’ facilities,” said Diane Willcox, Vice President of Communications and Development for the Center. “These funds will allow us to revitalize the Center as a landmark destination.”

“We appreciate the continued help from Congressman Moolenaar, our entire legislative delegation and the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure,” noted Jon Loos, the Center’s COO/Vice President of Operations. “In addition to their key role in obtaining this grant, they are assisting us with other flood-related issues, including conversations with FEMA and the Small Business Administration regarding flood insurance penalties placed on organizations with multiple facilities like the Center.”

Watershed Data Collection and Resiliency Planning

The $400,000 for the County of Midland comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the National Weather Service (NWS). The funding supports data collection tools and activities to improve the understanding of risks within the Tittabawassee River Watershed and to increase resiliency measures.

“We recognize the impacts of a changing climate and the critical need for improved data collection tools to assess rainfall and water levels in the watershed,” said Bridgette Gransden, Midland County Administrator/Controller. “This data is necessary to improve flood forecasting, assess the threat of future flood events, inform City and County emergency management and first responders, as well as provide information for long-term planning.”

Federal Cost-Share Increased to No Less Than 90 Percent

Typically when a federal major disaster declaration is made, the resulting federal assistance has a cost-share of 75 percent federal and 25 percent local.

“That 25 percent can be a high hurdle for local communities. Congressman Moolenaar has been mid-Michigan’s champion to get this changed for the 2020 flood damage,” said J.W. Fisher, Co-Chair of the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure.

The successful change affects those areas with federal major disaster declarations in calendar years 2020 and 2021. The federal cost-share of eligible assistance increases to “no less than 90 percent,” reducing the local cost-share to 10 percent or less. After the 2020 flood, the major disaster declaration (DR-4547-MI) included the counties of Midland, Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco and Saginaw.

“The increase in the reimbursement level for our flood-related FEMA projects means a savings of nearly $400,000 for the County alone,” said Gransden. “The other local units of government and nonprofits that have been working through this process with FEMA will need to use less local dollars to restore their properties to pre-flood conditions. We are extremely grateful for the dedication our legislators have shown to Midland and the region. For all of these grants and policy changes, we say thank you.”

Federal Coordination on Flood Mitigation

Report language was incorporated successfully in five individual fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills and was included in the passed legislation. The legislative report language urges the coordination on environment-based flood mitigation measures among five separate federal agencies: FEMA, EPA, NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Each of these agencies has played an important role in the federal response following the 2020 major disaster declaration,” said Lee Ann Keller, Co-Chair of the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure. “The report language lets these agencies know that Congress sees the importance of environment-based mitigation measures to lessen the impact of future floods in our region. This can help us get the support of these agencies for our future flood reduction projects.”

“In all of these funding and policy efforts, we have benefited from the hard work of our representatives in Washington – Congressman Moolenaar, Senator Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters and their teams,” said Stamas. “They all deserve credit and thanks for their tremendous support of our needs in mid-Michigan,” said Stamas.

Formed in early 2021, the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure has a broad mandate to examine any infrastructure issue that impacts the quality of life and economic vitality of the Midland area. Legacy flooding challenges and related sanitary sewer issues are the first areas of focus. The committee is charged with finding the best ways to work with local, state and federal partners to address the longstanding flood issues that impact the citizens, business community and economic development in the Great Lakes Bay Region. For more information, visit www.MBAmi.org/floodstudy.

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