Water main break prompts business concerns

Oct. 29, 2012  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.



Early last Thursday morning, a major water main break crippled local Plymouth Township businesses along Five Mile Road, backed up traffic and left a bank manager and some merchants with questions and concerns.

A main water line leading from the newest water tower at Five Mile and Beck Roads, currently undergoing major repair and construction, ruptured spewing muddy water across the road and slowing traffic.

An underground utilities contractor was on the scene, along with several workers and employees from the township water department, directing the excavation of the site to try to determine the cause.

A worker from CI Contracting in Brighton said he doubted problem was caused by an unexpected spike in the water pressure from the Five Mile tower. He indicated it was unusual as the temperature was in the 50s and the lines were relatively new.

One worker said the large diameter pipe that fed the area was under the control of Plymouth Township for maintenance, but ultimately controlled by the City of Detroit water board.

“That’s unfortunate for every- one, as they are on strike,” he said. “There is no one to test the water; they won’t come up here and no one will cross the union lines”.

Last month employees who are part of the largest Detroit Water and Sewerage Department union went on strike. The AFSCME local, made up of 950 employees, will be replaced by independent contractors, said to cut the work- force by 81 percent, according to published reports.

Charter One Bank Manager Cindy Isenhoff, said the bank branch on Five Mile was without water since 5:30 a.m. She said this was not the first time they have had problems with the water supply.

“Many times our water volume is very low and one time all of our toilets almost exploded when they were trying to flush out the lines,” she said.

She said the employees would be drinking bottled water for a while after the leak is fixed and the water turned on. “I’m not taking any chances.”

Mother’s Pizzeria, located just down the street in a shopping center was also without water and customers, but the Caribou Coffee shop had water and was busy.

The manager, who asked not to be identified, asked, “Who’s going to pay for this lost business?”

Officials have said in the past that the water tower operation was unsatisfactory. Built to hold one million gallons, the tank has not been filled to capacity. Reportedly, the tank will hold only 250,000 gallons of water before draining to that level. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which has increased water rates in Plymouth by 18 percent, has been requiring repairs to the tower and the township has already spent about $96,000 on replacement valves.

In April at a Township Board of Trustees Meeting, a contract was awarded to DeMattia Group for the work on the Five Mile Road water tower booster estimated to cost $491,000. The project is not complete and there have been several cost overruns. A large garage to house the booster pump next to the tower is near completion. DeMattia was the construction company selected to build a town- ship hall, a DPW building, the 35th District Court, a police station and a fire station.

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