Wayne Co., authority agree to $57.5M sewage plant sale
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Wednesday the county has a tentative agreement to sell a sewage disposal system to a group of downriver communities for $57.5 million.
Under the deal, the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority, will buy the county’s Downriver Wastewater Treatment Facility, Evans said.
As owner, the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority, or DUWA, will set the sewage system rates for its communities instead of the county — something that historically was a point of contention between them.
The authority represents Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren Township and Wyandotte.
“The DUWA communities have been working towards this goal of ownership and control for years to ensure that the needs of the 13 downriver communities for wastewater treatment can be met in the most cost-effective manner,” said Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars, the authority’s chairman, in a statement. “The transfer is appropriate recognizing the investment of more than $300 million by the downriver communities in recent years to upgrade this critical infrastructure component.”
Officials estimate it will take three to four months to finalize the definitive agreement, which will require approval of the Wayne County Commission, the authority and each of 13 the communities the DUWA represents.
As ownership is transferred, the wastewater facility’s 50 employees will continue to operate it, they also said. The authority will evaluate those workers for continued employment opportunities.
Evans said the county will use the sale’s proceeds to further improve its finances.
“While it required a great deal of negotiation to reach this point, I believe Wayne County and DUWA have struck a mutually beneficial agreement that allows our citizens to continue receiving high quality wastewater treatment services,” he said in a statement. “This tentative agreement is yet another good example of my administration’s commitment to establishing cooperative relationships with our cities and townships.”
Located on 34 acres in Wyandotte, the Downriver Wastewater Treatment Facility is the state’s second largest wastewater treatment facility with capacity to treat 225 million gallons of raw sewage daily.
The largest waste water treatment plant in the state is operated by the Great Lakes Water Authority, the metro area’s regional water authority, and located in Detroit. It serves 35 percent of the state’s population in 77 communities over an area that covers more than 946 square miles.