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Thank you, City, for turning on the waterworks

August 31, 2012
By Karen Wils , Daily Press

ESCANABA - He is wonderful, wild, refreshing and sometimes a little kinky.

He was my favorite dance partner for the summer of 2012!

All those hot, dry evenings after work, I just couldn't wait to get my hands on him again.

Article Photos

Photos courtesy of the Delta Co. Historical Society Archives

Water treatment plant located on the north end of Ludington Park off 1st. Ave. So. circa 1937.

If you are anything like me, you, too, have spent a lot of time with your garden hose this summer.

Record setting high temperatures and serious drought conditions in Delta County, made watering a daily chore.

If you wanted a garden or a green lawn, your water utility bill went up over the past few months.

Sprinklers sang out and birds and young children rejoiced bobbing in and out of the frigid water.

Drip hoses and irrigation saved the rose bushes and raspberries.

After a sweltering 90-degree day, we Yoopers go a little bit crazy. "Hose war," I yell and the watery battle is on. My kids have the better nozzle on their hose, but I have more pressure. The cold spray takes your breath away and soon all three of us are soaked!

After a hectic, hot day, nothing feels finer than a pick-me-up shower. Of all the modern day conveniences, (lights, refrigeration, phones) hot and cold running water is my favorite.

All of that wonderful water, we cook with it, clean with it, flush with it, and bathe in it. To cool off, we often ride or hike around Sand Point in Ludington Park where the breeze off of the Bay is so refreshing. Just beyond the Lighthouse, archives and Museum, stands our Escanaba water filtration plant.

From a long intake pipe out in the bay, our water is pumped, treated and stored in the two water towers, one by the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center and smiley tower in Wells.

Escanaba voted in 1886 in favor of a public water system. The town was thriving with each new home or business needing a well, so a waterworks company was formed. Six miles of wooden pipes were laid underground. A state of the art water pumping station was built in Ludington Park (near where the fountain is now located). Some people do not realize that the land where our current water filtration plant is today did not exist.

Sand Point beyond the Lighthouse was man-made as a WPA project back in the 1940s. In early pictures of the "waterworks company," Ludington Park looks so very different with white walls and tall stack of the pump house and the Lighthouse slightly north east of it. Arnson Island, too, is a man-made island constructed in the 1940s.

In the 1950s, the new present-day water filtration plant was built on the newly created Sand Point. The waterfront landmark, the old pumphouse from 1886 came down in 1955.

The brick building on Sand Point expanded over the years. Major modifications were made in 2003. To meet state standards and to ensure excellent water quality and service, the water department continues to change with holding ponds beyond the building. When the summer weather turns wicked for us northerners and temps climb into the 90s, when several showers a day are necessary, and the garden is crying for a drink, thank the water boys.

When you turn on that garden hose, sprinkler or "Slip-n-Slide" be thankful for the big lake. Some places ration watering. Water your sunflowers and pray for rain.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.



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