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The Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority (DUWA) is pleased to announce that today (September 27) it has closed on a long-anticipated transaction to assume ownership and oversight of the Downriver Sewage Disposal System serving 13 tributary communities (Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Ecorse, Dearborn Heights, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren Township and Wyandotte) in Wayne County, Mich. The Downriver System is the second largest wastewater system in Michigan with a service area population of 350,000.
The close of the transaction marks the successful end of negotiations with Wayne County which had owned and operated the plant in Wyandotte, Mich. since the 1930s, overseeing all wastewater transport and disposal services. Ownership and operations will now be assumed by the individual communities under the umbrella of the Authority, which will be overseen by a Board of Directors made up of leaders from each of the communities.
The $57,500,000 purchase price was primarily funded by the Authority selling 25-year municipal bonds at 4.05%. The Authority received ownership of the 34-acre treatment plant, 46 miles of interceptor, 18 miles of tunnels, fund reserve of $33,000,000 and other assets, and assumed system liabilities. The communities through DUWA now control the destiny of this vital public service. DUWA will maintain the infrastructure in a more cost-effective manner than the County.
“I want to congratulate members of the Board for all of the work they have done over the past three years to make this vision a reality,” said Rick Sollars, the Mayor of Taylor, Mich. and DUWA Chairman. Mayor Sollars also welcomed twenty-six employees who have worked at the facility as employees of the County, who under terms of the transaction will continue to perform their key roles as employees of Veolia North America.
The Authority’s efforts to acquire the wastewater system began when the County’s 50-year wastewater services contract with the 13 communities expired in 2012. In 2015, the County decided to put the facility up for sale rather than continuing to own and operate it. The Authority issued a “Letter of Intent” to purchase the system in 2016, with today’s announcement marking the close of the transaction.
While DUWA will maintain ownership and oversight of the plant, the Authority has contracted with Veolia North America to handle daily operations and management, pointing to the company’s breadth of expertise in providing quality wastewater services to more than 230 communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“We are enormously pleased to support the Authority and the Board in delivering high quality wastewater services to the more than 350,000 people living in these communities,” said Bill DiCroce, President and CEO of Veolia North America, which will oversee operations and management for the next 20 years as part of its contract with the Authority. In 2017, the Veolia Group supplied 96 million people with drinking water and 62 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 55 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 47 million metric tons of waste into new materials and energy.