The Gratiot Area Water Authority (also known as GAWA) is responsible for the proper treatment of domestic potable water. GAWA is composed of the river intake, six production wells, two ground reservoirs, two booster pump stations and the water treatment plant - which is the heart of the system. The Gratiot Area Water Authority operates and maintains the treatment plant while the Water Division of the Public Works Departments in Alma and St. Louis maintains the water distribution system throughout the cities which includes their respective elevated storage tanks. The daily operations of GAWA include the operation and maintenance of the Water Treatment Plant and it's components listed above. Laboratory testing and analyzing is ongoing where tests are run daily and even hourly to maintain the standards set forth by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division. Proper pump and motor as well as other equipment maintenance is also required.
The Water Treatment Plant was originally constructed to allow use of the Pine River as the main water source. Today, GAWA relies on the Pine River only as a back-up source of domestic water. Currently, the balance of the water supplied to the treatment plant is through the use of six wells (depths ranging from 105 feet to 162.5 feet); well #1, #7, #8, #9, #10 and #11. Any rotation of four out of the six wells get used at any particular time to meet current demands. These are presently the only production wells in service. Wells 3-6 no longer exist. They were abandoned and capped in the 1950's and 1960's. Well #2 was officially abandoned and capped in 2018. An additional well is currently in the works to be constructed (2022).
The Water Treatment Plant (GAWA) serves to provide high quality water to it's customers and is considered to be a "lime-soda softening" plant. This means that it uses a process whereby calcium and magnesium ions are precipitated from the water by reaction with lime and soda ash. Homes and businesses who receive water from the Water Treatment Plant have the luxury of receiving water that is not only disinfected, but is softened down to a hardness of between 130-150 PPM (parts per million) or 7.6-8.7 GPG (grains per gallon).
The City of Alma and City of St. Louis water divisions are responsible for the proper distribution of water to City residents and businesses. Collectively, the water systems for the City of Alma and City of St. Louis are composed of approximately 100 miles of water main including valves and hydrants as well as countless service connections to homes and businesses. The water mains vary in size from 4" to 16" in diameter. The water division is who repairs water main breaks. It is responsible for the water line up to and including the curb stop valve going to a business or home. The water line after this curb stop valve is the responsibility of the home or business owner.
The water division is also responsible for maintaining a Cross Connection program set forth by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division.