Oakland County in December 2020 received one of 20 national honorable mention designations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's AQUARIUS Awards for projects financed by Michigan's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Earning this recognition was the water main and water meter replacement project in the city of Pontiac.
Annually, the EPA recognizes outstanding projects across the country that are financed by the DWSRF, a $41 billion federal-state partnership dedicated to protecting America's public health. The program finances the construction and rehabilitation of critical drinking water infrastructure across our nation. The DWSRF AQUARIUS program recognizes exceptional DWSRF projects nationally that meet the criteria of Safe Drinking Water Act compliance, financial integrity, and public health benefits.
The city of Pontiac had several thousand outdated water meters that had to be manually read by a water system employee. Based on billing data, it was estimated that 8% of purchased water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was lost because of inaccurate residential meters. This equated to an annual loss of over $320,000. Pontiac also had over 180 water main breaks between 2011 and 2014 on deteriorating cast iron water mains resulting in water interruptions, boil water advisories, and further lost water. Oakland County, which owns Pontiac's drinking water system, received three low interest DWSRF loans, administered by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, totaling $12.7 million. The DWSRF loans financed the installation of over 12,000 residential water meters and the replacement of approximately 10,000 feet of water main. In addition, Oakland County received $1.76 million in Green Project Reserve loan forgiveness from the DWSRF as the projects incorporated water efficiency elements.
These projects were completed in June 2019 and continue to provide customers a more efficient drinking water system that can better manage and prevent water loss.