Environmental Services

Environmental Services building


The Environmental Services Department works to improve the quality of life for our citizens. We use sustainable practices to protect the environment, and public health and welfare.

The Environmental Services Department operates the Water Resource Recovery Facility. The facility collects and treats an average of 40 million gallons of wastewater a day. We also oversee stormwater management, green infrastructure, and air quality in the City. To learn more, you can request a tour.

What can you do to help?

Environmental health affects us all. Actions that we think are small can add up to big benefits. Learn more about what you can do to improve our environment.

Environmental Tips

Take a Tour

Ever wondered what happens to your water after it runs down the drain? A tour of our Water Resource Recovery Facility answers that question. It's the best way to learn about the water treatment process from start to finish!

Request a Tour

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.

More About Wastewater

Water Resources — Utility of the Future

We are a clean water utility leading towards resource recovery, improved operational efficiency, and sustainability to support a safe, healthy, thriving community, environment, and economy.

Managing the Waste We Produce Every Day

The Water Resource Recovery Facility treats an average of 40 million gallons of water daily. That's equivalent to 100,000 bathtubs!

Resource Recovery

We’re capturing valuable resources that would otherwise be lost. Methane produced by the anaerobic digester is captured and turned into renewable natural gas. A combined heat and power system produces thermal energy to heat the digester tanks and provides electricity to power the facility.

Protecting Our Natural Resources

Grand Rapids values its water resources above all else. By cleaning wastewater and recovering resources at our facility, we are doing our part to keep the Grand River and our watersheds clean for all to enjoy.

Download our brochure to learn about the Biodigestion Process and the benefits of using Biogas.

Download the Brochure(PDF, 3MB)

If you are interested in seeing the Biodigestion Process first-hand, schedule a tour of the Water Resource Recovery Facility.

Schedule a Tour

Our approach to stormwater management has, and continues to change. The old way was all about getting it out fast. The new mantra is slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in.

This modern approach includes:

  • Multiple-use facilities
  • Recreation
  • Wetland preservation
  • Groundwater recharge.

It's a beautiful way to protect the environment and preserve green space in our community.

More About Stormwater

Program for industrial facilities to protect the City of Grand Rapids stormwater and public waters through appropriate stormwater pollution prevention methods.  Our Industrial Stormwater Program (ISW) requires industrial facilities, RCRA generator facilities, facilities with one or more aboveground storage tank (AST) or have materials/activities exposed to stormwater to participate in the program.

More about ISW

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.

More About Biosolids

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.

We rely on experts to guide our operations and decision making. These groups review and give feedback on our operations.

Stormwater Oversight Commission

This commission reviews the City's stormwater system. It also makes recommendations for improvement to the City government. Here's a look at the commission's duties:

  • Reviews the current state of the City's stormwater system
  • Reports on stormwater
  • Look over expenditures and makes recommendations to the City Manager and Commission

Stormwater Oversight Commission Documents

More About the Commission

Grand Valley Regional Biosolids Authority

We provide leadership in a regional biosolids management program. Our program is sustainable, innovative, and captures the value of biosolids.

We manage biosolids processing, handling, and re-use. We do this in a diversified manner to benefit the economy, the environment, and society as a whole.

More About the Authority

Utility Advisory Board

The Utility Advisory Board is a regional partnership. Grand Rapids provides water and sewer services to other cities, townships, and other municipalities.

We're always working hard to improve the environment. We have launched these programs and initiatives to help move us forward.

You can check out our water quality islands on Plainfield Avenue or take a tour of the Water Resource Recover Facility to see some city-owned rain gardens. If you're interested in creating your own, visit https://wmeac.org/solution/rain-gardens/You'll find helpful tips and some extraordinary success stories.