CREW Detroit president helps change Michigan law, save taxpayers money

LYON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Lyon Township business owner and CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Detroit President Leslie Zawada helped draft a bill that’s helping Michigan business owners and taxpayers save money.

The bill, Public Act 180 of 2013, lightens Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) limits on materials dispensed into local sewer systems. In November 2013, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law. It’s said to have already saved Lyon Township $80,000 and is expected to save Michigan taxpayers around $5 million.

Leslie Zawada

Leslie Zawada

Zawada, president of Civil Engineering Solutions, Inc. got involved because the previous law was negatively impacting a pair of her clients. Specifically, it restricted the amount of sodium allowed in sewer discharge – a process that’s very difficult to treat in plants and one that business owners aren’t subjected to if connected to Detroit or other surface water treatment plants, she explained.

With the support of State Rep. Hugh Crawford (R-Lyon Township) and Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg), Zawada and fellow consultants, Anthony Dowson of Highland Treatment, Inc. and Rob Dewyer of AMEC in Novi, helped draft the bill. The group also assisted the townships in negotiating with the DEQ to find a safe compromise to the hefty restrictions.

“The bill was limiting what companies could do in their communities and limiting economic development,” Zawada said. “So we contacted our state representatives and senators in both districts; we did a lot of research on Environmental Protection Agency requirements in other states and helped our clients negotiate with the DEQ. Without the help of our representatives and senators, though, it would have never happened.”

She, Dowson and Dewyer were invited to attend the bill signing with Gov. Snyder this past November. Since then, she said, the updated law has not only saved her clients money, but it’s also saving constituents money in that treatment costs aren’t being passed on to those connected to public sewer systems.

“This is just one teeny little thing for civil engineering,” Zawada said, “but I’ve never been involved in a situation where we were actually able to help change the law.”

Zawada was sworn in as the 2014 president of CREW Detroit in January. She was appointed to the position of president-elect last year after 5 years with the organization.

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