Esky explains boil water advisories

ESCANABA — As water infrastructure repairs begin to ramp up for the summer season, many residents may be notified they are under a boil advisory. Escanaba Water and Wastewater Superintendent Jeff Lampi discussed what this means for residents during Thursday’s regular city council meeting.

“Five years ago we started to become more aware of our issues and we became aware that perhaps just because the water gets shut off doesn’t me we just turn it on without worrying about getting somebody sick tomorrow. So we’ve been very diligent about the safety of the public,” said Lampi.

The advisories are typically the result of fire hydrant replacements, the replacements of valves, or shutting down a portion of the system to make repairs to water mains. The process begins with flushing the area — which can be seen when fire hydrants are allowed to run water into the street — before residents are given notice that they will have water service disruptions.

While it may seem like work is taking place in an isolated area, anyone whose water service comes off the main between the work area and the next valve in the system will be affected by the work. If a valve breaks, the area of affected residents can expand, as there are fewer functional valves to section off the system. Likewise, adding additional valves to the system can reduce the number of people who are affected by future repairs.

“Through this we have shortened these spans and installed valves so we can do our work with less disruption to people as we go,” said Lampi.

Once the water is off, residents are again visited by the water department, which places red tags on doors. These tags indicate that residents will need to boil their water again once service is restored.

The affected area is then flushed with water again, and after 16 to 24 hours samples are taken and tested in a lab for things like coliform bacteria and evidence of contamination by human waste. That lab work typically takes 24 hours, and, assuming the water is safe, residents are advised with green door tags that they can now drink the water again without boiling it first.

Wind has been known to blow away red door tags, and occasionally errors are made where residents who have not suffered water disruption are given tags. If a resident knows or is unsure if they lost water service they should contact the water department to find out if their home is in a boil advisory.

“The safest thing to do is if you think that you may have unsafe water, boil it; avoid drinking it until you know for certain. For most healthy people, it’s not going to be an issue, but fo a compromised individual, it could be fatal,” said Lampi.

In other business the council:

— Set a public hearing on the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget for May 2, during the council’s regular meeting. This will be the fourth of five hearings on the budget.

— Approved the use of Ludington Park and Ludington Street on May 31 from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. for the Annual Krusin’ Klassics Fun Run car parade.

— Passed a resolution recognizing Escanaba Motor Speedway as a nonprofit for the purposes of obtaining a charitable gaming license from the state.

— Approved hiring Bosk Paint & Sandblast, of Escanaba, for service on the exterior and interior of equipment, piping, and valves at the wastewater plant. The cost of the work is not to exceed $89,935 and money is budgeted for the item.

— Approved retaining the services of FSO Management, of Oconto Falls, Wis. for the removal of bio-solids from the wastewater plant. The cost of this work will be 25 cents per gallon plus a $12,000 fee for mobilization.

— Approved retaining C2AE of Escanaba to engineering services and implementing, conducting, and executing a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) in an amount not to exceed $457,050. The city’s application for the grant was the highest scoring in the state, and the grant funds that have been awarded will allow the city to pursue expanding water services further into Wells Township.

— Recognized both Arbor Day and National Linemen Week. A proclamation was read declaring April 26 as Arbor Day, and City Manager Jim McNeil referenced the hard work of the city’s electrical crews, including their response to a power outage Wednesday night that was caused by a seagull.


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