Midland excited by flood remediation grants


Two lines, known as earmarks, in an otherwise tedious, 220-page 2023-24 General Omnibus Budget for Michigan, mean that the City of Midland will have $40 million more during the next two years to assist with flooding remediation and other watershed projects.

On July 31, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the second part of a nearly $82 billion total state budget, the schools portion of the budget was inked on July 20, after, according to the Associated Press, the Legislature passed it in late June when Democrats secured Republican support for immediate effect by the start of the next fiscal year on Oct. 1. 

The $57 billion general budget provides $1 billion for the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) department from which the two grants for the City of Midland are included. One grant provides $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds administered by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). A $15 million enhancement grant from the State for Michigan’s projects funds rounds out the notations.

In an op-ed on the Midland Business Alliance website,, J.W. Fisher and Lee Ann Keller, co-chairs of the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure, say its staff already is working with city staff on planning for projects, as well as meeting with Lansing legislators to get details of the grants.

Keller is owner and CEO of Omni Tech,, a global technical and business consulting company in Midland. Fisher is  president of Fisher Contracting Company, a heavy/highway civil contractor with locations in Michigan and Kentucky and part of
Fisher Companies.
Lee Ann Keller
Each funding source, they say, will have specific requirements around timelines, reporting and use of funds. Keller says committee members are excited about receiving the grants but now must temper that enthusiasm with “defining what comes first,” following the receipt of the Corps of Engineers report Oct. 1.” We don’t want to be duplicative,” she says. “We want to spend the dollars in the very best way.”

The $40 million is designated specifically for the City of Midland. It's the latest in grant money for the Tittabawassee River watershed in the Midland County area. Ten community organizations, including the City of Midland as an ex officio member with City Manager C. Brad Kaye attending, teamed up early on following the 2020 Tittabawassee River dam collapses. Under the auspices of the MBA, they formed the Advisory Committee on Infrastructure. Requests were made and continue to be made for the support of local projects.
Brad Kaye, Midland City Manager
Kaye echoes Keller’s thoughts on what’s next. “First we are seeking clarity on what can and cannot be done with the funds,” he says. In addition, he says, the funding, as well as the engineering, won’t be available until October.
According to the MBA, more than 2,500 homes were destroyed and more than $200 million in property damage was done during the flood in May 2020. But it is not a lone event, as life-changing flooding also occurred in 1986, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2020 when the rivershed crested above “major flood stage” (28 feet) by the rampaging waters, and in other years when it passed “flood stage” (24 feet).

Already members of the Committee on Infrastructure has requested and received more than $16 million in appropriations. They include for fiscal year 2023:
  • $1 million for the City of Midland – Sylvan pump station detention basin project.
  • $2 million for the MyMichigan Medical Center Midland – boiler plant and flood resiliency project
  • $750,000 for Midland County – floodplain reconnection and enhancement project
For FY 2022: 
  • $1.65 million in FY 2022 Federal Community Project Funding – $750,000 for the City of Midland storm/sanitary sewer improvements project, $500,000 for Midland Center for the Arts revitalization following flooding, and $400,000 for Midland County flood data collection tools/planning
  • $3 million estimated savings from FEMA cost-share adjustment for 2020-21 major disasters (adjusted from a 75% federal share to “no less than 90% of eligible costs”)
  • $3 million state appropriations for flood reduction planning (engineering services for shorter-term projects and second USACE study)
  • $5 million from Michigan Public Acts of 2022 toward the MyMichigan Medical Center Midland boiler plant/flood resiliency.
The city also approved applications at its Aug. 14 City Council meeting for separate funding through the  Michigan Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery funding program allocated through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Valley Drive was one of many streets in Midland with piles of debris following the disaster in May 2020.“The bottom line is this: we will be receiving $40 million of funding to put to good work in reducing flooding and building resiliency in Midland. We should all celebrate this progress and support from Lansing,” Keller and Fisher say. “We are excited about this level of support. It will allow us to make significant, tangible progress in the shorter term and to start addressing elements of a longer-term plan. Working alongside the City of Midland, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the County of Midland, we believe we will find actionable solutions to improve the safety of citizens, promote growth and economic vitality in mid-Michigan, and improve water quality in the watershed and the Saginaw Bay.”

Kaye also applauded the work of local representatives, Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet, D-Bay City and Rep. Bill G. Schuette, R-Midland, in getting the funding, calling their working together instrumental in securing support across aisles.

For more information about the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure can be found at www.MBAmi.org/floodstudy
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Read more articles by Ralph E. Wirtz.

Ralph E. Wirtz is a native Midlander who retired from the Midland Daily News as a managing editor in 2015. He has been freelancing since then in between traveling and volunteering. He has four adult children, all who graduated from Bullock Creek High School as he did. He is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Central Michigan University grad. He can be reached at ralphewirtz@gmail.com.