87 

 

Utility Description 

(combine all plants if a multi-site system)

 

 

Type (e.g., single plant, regional system, multiple plants, collection system only, stormwater, etc.): The City of 
Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility is a single plant serving 11 communities. 
Service Area (square miles): 127 

Average annual daily flow (MGD): 42.6 

Population Served: 277,030 

Location  

Street Address: 1300 Market Ave SW 
City:  Grand Rapids                                     State: MI 

Zip Code: 49503 

Contact Information  

Name: Mike Lunn 

Phone: (616) 456-3914 

Email: mlunn@grcity.us 

 

NARRATIVE: The City of Grand Rapids wasn’t always a Utility of the Future. Grand Rapids, part of the 
struggling “rust belt” region, was suffering from declining general fund revenues from a weak economy 
after the collapse of the manufacturing industries. However, the employees of the City of Grand Rapids 
knew that even in a declining economy, success was possible. We knew that we could come together, 
for the public good, and create an environment that raised everyone’s quality of life. The work 
completed over the last three decades has created an entirely new future for the City, and our culture 
has played a large role in that success. Our top-to-bottom transformation story is an incredible one, and 
one driven through the creation of a culture of innovation, collaboration, inclusiveness, continuous 
evolution, transparency and accountability. Not just buzz words to us, these words define our decision 
making each and every day to build a sustainable City platform.  

Change often is driven through leadership, and that is also true for Grand Rapids. The City of Grand 
Rapids leadership style focuses heavily on a culture where employees are part of a collaborative team 
with an unwritten rule that ideas are encouraged and fostered. In recent years, several major projects 
have ushered in a new era that have secured a positive future for Grand Rapids for many years to come, 
while introducing our community to ideas that build a sustainable city. Embedding these practices and 
policies in to our work is what’s contributed to our success. Our concept to build a “Sustainable City 
Future” is written in our Fiscal Plan and is the driving force for many of our projects, a few of which are 
listed here. 

Combined Sewer Overflow Project 

Like many municipalities, Grand Rapids had a combined sewer system starting in the 1900s. The city had 
59 sewer overflow sites and discharged into our most precious resource, the Grand River. In 1969, we 
were allowing 12.6 billion gallons of raw, untreated sewage to flow into the river. Today, we are proud 
to say that after 27 years of working to separate the city’s storm and sanitary sewer systems, that 
number is zero. This project cost $400 million dollars, but was universally recognized for its importance 
to preserve the quality of our watershed for generations to come - something incredibly important for 
us in the Great Lakes region. A project of this magnitude crossed multiple departments within the city, 
and took tremendous buy-in from our tax and rate payers, as well as from our elected leadership. 

Solar Array Field 

Through an innovative public-private partnership, the City of Grand Rapids will complete the installation 
of a photovoltaic solar farm by the end of 2016. The solar farm will be located directly across the river 
from the Water Resource Recovery Facility and will send electricity back to the facility. Instead of buying