Wastewater Treatment

Since building our waste water treatment facility in 1931, we've changed a lot more than the name. We've worked hard to restore the quality and reputation of the Grand River, our most precious resource.

We treat 40 million gallons of waste water every day and keep all untreated sewage out of the river. And we use state-of-the-art technology to do it in the most sustainable way possible.

Our Environmental Services team is continuing to work on our PFAS evaluation plan, which has been approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. This work includes identifying and monitoring potential PFAS sources coming into our Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF). A PFAS pollutant reduction plan is similar to the mercury minimization plan that has been successful over time and has been part of our WRRF program for more than 20 years. We’re committed to pollution reduction and we’re working with confirmed sources to reduce this pollutant in our environment. Our potential and identified sources are collaborative and cooperative.

These sources impact the WRRF’s treated discharge water to the Grand River – not drinking water. Wastewater sampling at the WRRF is taking place on a monthly basis, and we’re working with identified sources to continue monitoring for PFAS. As with all sewage and pollutant discharges, including domestic use, we continue to reduce and eliminate wastewater as a source of harm to the environment. We continue to work collaboratively with our sewer users, regulating bodies, national membership associations, universities, research foundations and other partners to work on long-term cost-effective treatment solutions.

The work to reduce PFAS pollutants is expected to take many years, and fully understanding the pervasiveness of PFAS compounds in the environment is still being studied. PFAS is a long-term environmental cleanup, and we’re confident that knowledge, technology and treatment options will continue to improve and be successful. The WRRF’s industrial pretreatment program continues to be a state leader in PFAS evaluation.

Check out a PFAS destruction technology we’re working to help bring to a bigger scale: https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2018/diamond-technology-cleans-up-pfas-contaminated-wastewater/.

For information on the high-quality and safe drinking water provided by our Water System, visit https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Departments/Water-System.

Three decades of work. A lifetime of cleaner water.

During the 1960s, there were 59 points in the city where raw or partially treated sewage could overflow into the Grand River. Billions of gallons of sewage flowed into the river every year.

Today, there are no combined sewer overflows and 0 gallons of untreated sewage entering the river.

Cleaner water is a result of the Sewer Improvement Project. Learn more about the project and CSOs below.

Sewer Improvement Project

Get a permit.

The Water Resource Recovery Facility accepts portable toilet waste by permit only. To request a discharge permit, give us a call at 616-456-3625.

Biosolids are the organic material collected throughout the water recovery process. Currently, we extract this material, load it into sealed trucks, and send it to landfills.

Grand Rapids is a certified Environmental Management System with the National Biosolids Partnership. This modern management approach keeps our operations efficient and protective of the environment.

About Biosolids

Find out where your water goes.

We offer free tours of the Water Resource Recovery Facility all year round. This is a great way to learn about the water treatment process from start to finish.

The 90-minute tour starts with a presentation on the treatment process, and many of our green initiatives and ends with a walk-through of the treatment facility.

Request a Tour