City seeks grant to replace $7.65M water tanks

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s the motto for the City of Alpena as it continues to try and secure a grant to help cover a portion of the cost to replace two large and expensive clear wells at the water treatment plant.

The 500,000 gallon clear wells, which are basically large, cement tanks, are 85 and 98 years-old. A great deal of time and money was spent in 2007 filling cracks in the cement structures, but those repairs are quickly reaching the end of their lifespan.

The city applied for a grant in 2020 to help cover a portion of the estimated $6.2 million needed to replace the wells but didn’t receive it. The replacement cost for two new 750,000 gallon wells has since swelled to $7.65 million.

The city is applying for a grant through a federal program that essentially awards funds to local government infrastructure projects that are outside of, but support, military installations, such as the Combat Readiness Training Center. The city is proposing a 30% match of nearly $2.3 million. The grant would cover the remaining approximately $5.36 million.

Regardless of whether it secures a grant, staff says the city will be forced to replace the clear wells within the next 7-10. The wells are used to store clean water before it is distributed throughout the system.