Jessica Mathews /

The City of Howell hosted a grand opening event for its newly named and upgraded Water Resource Recovery Facility.

The purpose of the event was to highlight the improvements from the 18-month construction project for the new facility - formerly known as the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The ceremony included speeches from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy or EGLE Director Liesle Clark. She stated that "Everyone knows when you are driving on a 40-year-old road, but no one realizes when you are drinking from a 40-year-old pipe". Clark’s comments focused on the importance of updating Michigan's water infrastructure, and Howell being an excellent example of a community keeping it at the forefront of planning.

City Manager Erv Suida kicked off the event by thanking everyone involved in the project and highlighted the public/private partnership between the City, Marion Township, and Pepsico that made it possible.

A press release states the project was made possible through that “extraordinary collaboration”. It says the three entities came together with a mutual desire to provide a more cost-efficient treatment process with the ability to readily handle Pepsi's higher organic process waste. Pepsi's investment made the project more affordable for Howell and Marion to complete much-needed upgrades outlined in a 2010 Project Plan.

At the end of the ceremony, Deputy Director Mike Spitler spoke about the importance of public education to draw younger minds to the industry. He further discussed the rebranding of Wastewater Plants throughout the country to better describe the process. The first step is said to be renaming Wastewater Treatment Plants into Water Resource Recovery Facilities. Officials commented that “water is our most important resource, and recovering it from waste is precisely what these facilities are designed to do”.

The City is planning to host a public event and tours of the new facility in the spring.