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March 26, 2019 12:04 am

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Some Douglas Water Mains Too Small For Firefighting Use, Says Anxious Residents

   The main lines in the water supply system along Lakeshore Drive,  Campbell Road and other parts of the City of Douglas are too small to supply enough water pressure to put out a fire if the fire department ever had to use them, concerned residents told the city council Monday.

     “What we want to know at Lakeshore is (for you) to tell us what the numbers are,” said Fred “Fritz” Royce, saying he was frustrated the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority (KLSWA) is not being transparent about up-to-date data.

     The specific information residents are seeking, noted Royce, are the findings of a reliability study showing a mapping of the water mains; what size those mains are;  what size they need to be to be up to par; and what would be the cost to bring them up to date.

     Royce says adequate water mains, which usually run under the street or along the side of the street, are needed so that fire-fighting units have the capacity to deliver 2,000 gallons per minute (GPM) from nozzles.

     He has spearheaded an investigation into the matter upon finding out about the problem at the June 30 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing over the proposed development plans at the former Saugatuck Presbyterian Camps.

     The council concurred with Royce that the issue was indeed a “serious” one and needed attention precisely because the city too is seeking the same information in order to start the planning process to address it.

     But getting information has not been easy.  

     “(KLSWA Manager Daryl VanDyke) is tight with information,” charged Royce. “I was told, ‘I can exclude giving you the current reliability study on the grounds of terrorism (because terrorists could potentially sabotage the drinking system).’”

     The problem resides in the fact that the city and KLSWA have different engineering firms and the transfer of the information between those engineers is causing a bottleneck, says Douglas City Manager William LeFevere.

     While KLSWA’s engineers have worked on reliability studies -and have an updated one - the city’s engineers don’t, added LeFevere.

     “Finding out what our rights are as owners of a water system is number one,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath, suggesting the city may want to seek legal counsel about the issue.

     Unable to get an updated reliability study from KLSWA, Royce was able to get one from the city for the year 2012. 

     That study shows Campbell Road has a six-inch main, but needs an eight-inch main to be adequate from a fire-fighting standpoint. 

     The cost for improvements is estimated at $207,000.

     On Lakeshore Drive, south of Campbell Road down to Center Street, a six-inch main would also eed to be replaced with an eight-inch one at an estimated cost of $297,000.

     Similarly, the section of Lakeshore Drive south of Center Street, down to the city’s boundaries (a couple of blocks) calls for the same, as it shows that area has only a four-inch main. 

     That improvement is estimated at $126,000.

     But again, this is outdated information and not what Royce or other residents are seeking.

     “I would like see all four entities - the cities of Saugatuck, Douglas, Saugatuck Township and (KLSWA) sit down and talk about it,” said Royce.

Some Douglas Water Mains Too Small For Firefighting Use, Says Anxious Residents

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