Guest Post by Corey Wheeler
Albion’s water main system is a rising problem for the City of Albion, one that they need to address in the coming years.
Albion residents may face rising water rates as the water system for the City of Albion is damaged. Jones & Henry Engineers, Ltd recently did a system reliability study, a test required by the state of Michigan, and found that overall the water system is well operated and maintained but did show some signs of aging.
During a City Council meeting on Monday night, Principal Director Paul Romano of Jones & Henry’s Kalamazoo office spoke at length about what the study entailed. The study found that Albion’s water system is in adequate condition to withstand any case of emergency such as a massive fire and overall Albion’s water system is very reliable.
“Michigan communities are supposed to update their Water System Reliability Studies periodically,” said Romano.
The study did, however, find some problems within Albion’s water system. The elevated water tower needs to be repaired or replaced, and some small main distribution lines should be replaced. A repair of the water tower would cost an estimated $500,000, while a full water tower replacement can be upwards of $3 million.
The water tower, which was built in 1993, is starting to show signs of age. The aging of the water tower means corrosion on the inside and outside of the water tower, which can cause lead problems inside the water.
Jones & Henry also recommended to the Albion City Council that the smaller water main needs to be replaced. Paul Romaono also gave a solution to this problem by saying, “replacing the small water main can be done with the street rehabilitation projects.”
To fix the water tank and smaller water main, the city of Albion does need additional funds. City Councilman Maurice V. Barnes Jr. of the First Precinct suggested that the water tower and small main lines be paid for by making water rates higher for the citizens of Albion.
“Water Tower and Small main distribution lines have to be paid for, and we are at a breakeven point, so we are not showing any profit to do anything,” explained Councilman Barnes. “We have been looking at this and our budget to see when we can allocate money from the general fund, we have also been looking on the state and federal levels for grant money, but the main option is the consumer themselves.”
Before an official word is released on whether or not water rates will be hiked, the City of Albion will have to do a rate study. The rate study will be used to determine how much the current water rates would jump. Currently, there is no plan for putting a rate study in motion, but the City Council meeting made it apparent that this issue needs attention and will be taken up in the near future.
Photo by Clare Kolenda