Grand Rapids Completes Major Water Project Years Ahead of Mandate | Black & Veatch

Grand Rapids Completes Major Water Project Years Ahead of Mandate

Black & Veatch project and construction management helps city eliminate combined sewer overflows

Grand Rapids, Michigan, has completed its combined sewer overflow (CSO) control project three years ahead of a state mandated deadline. The project significantly improves the water quality in the Grand River and reduces localized flooding. Black & Veatch provided the city with planning, design and construction engineering services.

The Grand Rapids sewer system was constructed more than 100 years ago. It used combined sewers with both storm water and sanitary sewage transported in a single pipeline. The CSO approach was common at the time of construction. However, during heavy rainfall, CSOs caused flooding and allowed untreated sewage to be discharged into the Grand River. The State of Michigan issued a mandate to the city in 1988 to eliminate all CSOs by 2019.

Black & Veatch began providing project engineering services for the city’s CSO project in 1988. This work was focused on eliminating 59 sewer overflow sites and discharges into the Grand River by separating and replacing storm and sanitary sewers. The first phase of the project on the west side of the city was completed in 1999. Work was recently completed on the east side of the city at the intersection of Washington Street and Lafayette Avenue on the last of the 59 original overflow sites.

“The water quality improvements realized by this project greatly benefit the community and environment. We appreciate Black & Veatch’s project performance and collaboration in reaching this successful outcome.”   

Michael Lunn, Environmental Services Manager for the City of Grand Rapids

Black & Veatch’s work on the project included designing green infrastructure components such as narrowing existing roadways where possible to increase grass parkways. This decreases water flows on concrete and asphalt surfaces.  Additional green infrastructure included rain gardens, pervious pavements and hydrodynamic separators to remove sediments.

“Grand Rapids has been very proactive in addressing combined sewer overflows to the benefit of residents and the environment,” said Cindy Wallis-Lage, President of Black & Veatch’s water business. “Accomplishing this major project three years ahead of schedule is a credit to the city‘s strong community leadership and public works team.”


Editor’s Notes:

  • The city’s combined sewers encompassed a more than 6-square-mile area with 119 miles of pipeline installed, along with two stormwater pumping stations.
  • Grand Rapids CSO volumes were approximately 10 billion gallons annually when the project began.
  • Underground filtration basins were used in the Grand Rapids project.

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