Wastewater Collection and Treatment

The City of Lowell maintains about 21 miles of sanitary sewer gravity mains by which we collect wastewater from your home or business. The Department of Public Works (DPW) routinely cleans and inspects the sewer lines by televising the insides of the pipes, reviewing approximately one-third about 32,000 feet of the sewer system each year.  It is from this inspection work that repair and replacement projects are planned.  Unfortunately, problems sometimes exist within the sewer system that needs additional attention.  Whenever we receive a call about a sewer backup or sewer complaint the DPW responds. See our Sewer Backups page for guidance in the case of a backup.   

The City of Lowell has contracted with Veolia North America for the operation of the wastewater treatment plant since construction was completed in 1989.  Veolia operates and maintains the treatment plant as well as the collection systems 3 lift stations.  Veolia operates approximately 200 projects in North America employing over 10,000 people.  Although the City of Lowell oversees the operation of the treatment plant, the plant actually has shared ownership by the City of Lowell and Lowell Township. You can contact the wastewater plant at 616-897-8135. The plant is located at 300 Bowes Rd in Lowell. 

Our Processes
The wastewater treatment plant utilizes an extended aeration activated sludge process.  Treatment consists of four main parts: preliminary treatment, secondary treatment, disinfection, and solids handling.  Secondary treatment includes two oxidation ditches followed by two secondary clarifiers.  After secondary treatment the flow is metered and then disinfected using a chlorine contact chamber and discharged to the Flat River.

Activated sludge from the clarifiers is either returned to the ditches or wasted to a rotating drum thickener.  Once thickened the biosolids are transferred to a digester then to a sludge storage tank.  Ultimate disposal of biosolids is by land application.

Water is tested prior to discharge to the Flat River to confirm that it meets the requirements of the Cities National Pollution Discharge Elimination Standards (NPDES) permit.  The plant is designed to treat 1.42 million gallons of water per day (MGD), current average flow is 1.2 MGD.

Plant Services
There is a RV/Camper dump station located at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The dump station is available year-round.  There is potable and rinse water (non-potable) available seasonally at the station.  Hours are Monday – Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Cost is $5.00.  Please contact the waste water treatment plant at 616-897-8135 to verify the station is open and available.

Think Before You Flush
Where does your water go after you flush the toilet, empty the sink, take a shower, or do laundry? Wastewater drains into the community’s sanitary sewer system.  The sanitary sewer system is an underground network of pipes that leads to the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).  Sewers are designed to take away used dirty water from sinks, baths, showers, laundries, and toilets. Flushing away "unflushables" adds to the cost of operating and maintaining your sewers and the wastewater treatment plant. Putting trash down the toilet does cause blockages in sewers and possible damage to the environment.

"Disposable" doesn't mean flushable.  Disposable means you should bag it and trash it... don't flush it!  Most baby wipes and adult wipes are not flushable!  This information is usually written in tiny letters somewhere on the package.  Even if the phrase "flushable" or "safe to flush" is on the package, it should not be considered flushable.  These "unflushable" and many "flushable" wipes do not fall apart in water like toilet paper.  The wipes get tangled in the sewage with other wipes and debris, resulting in sewer clogs and expensive problems for your collection system and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).  These additional maintenance issues cost you money in the form of sewer rates and take time away from the operators and maintenance staff's daily activities.  Flushing these items can impact you or your neighbor's sewer service.

Examples of DO NOT Flush Items

baby wipes

adult wipes

paper towels

disposable and cloth diapers

feminine products



dental floss


sanitary towels

incontinence pads



kitty litter

cigarette butts

panty hose

razors and blades- put these in a rigid container before placing in the trash bin

medicines- any unwanted or unused medicines should be returned to your local pharmacy for safe disposal

Thank you for considering the impact these items may have on your sanitary sewer system before you flush! You can print a reminder page Think Before You Flush