Improvements Bring Drinking Water System Up to Today’s Standards

Village of White Pigeon, Michigan
February 23, 2023

Picture this:  Low water pressure. Boil water advisories. Road construction and closures. Inadequate fire suppression…

That’s what the Village of White Pigeon was experiencing on a regular basis due to an outdated and undersized water main that ran through the center of US 12. Because of its location, the only way to fix it was to shut down the road and reroute the heavy truck traffic elsewhere.

And unfortunately, the number of water main breaks continued to increase.

The Village was in desperate need of updates to their water system, so in 2020 Jones Petrie Rafinski (JPR) was hired by the White Pigeon Village Council to develop a plan to replace the water main along US 12.

JPR Resident Project Representative reviewing plans with contractor.

After completing a Preliminary Engineering Report and topographic survey, and after developing a hydraulic model of the water distribution system, the JPR team designed an appropriately sized water main to replace the existing one. Shifting from a 4-inch pipe to a 10-inch pipe and changing the material from cast iron to PVC C900 has given the system a strong, reliable backbone for the future.

“The size of the pipe has been increased to address the current water needs of the Village as well as plan for future growth,” said JPR Senior Project Engineer Jenny Foglesong, PE. “The use of modern materials ensure that the investment today will last 50 years and beyond.”

The team also adjusted the location of the water main. Instead of installing it underneath the highway to match the existing location, they moved it north to be placed in the tree lawn. This change alone will reduce both the cost of maintenance and impact to traffic on US 12.

In addition, JPR procured project funding in the form of along-term, low-interest loan. This was important because the Village demographic falls within the overburdened community income range for the State of Michigan, and would not have been able to complete the project without it.

Getting ready for new sidewalks in White Pigeon, Michigan after water service updates.

“This project is the start of bringing the drinking water system up to today’s standards,” said Tyler Royce, Village Council President. “The Village has been, in the past, managing the water system by reacting to issues such as main breaks. We could no longer manage the system using that approach, and the residents and local businesses deserve reliable drinking water and available fire suppression.”

In coordination with the Michigan Department of Environmental, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the goal of the project was to improve water services and provide adequate fire suppression. It also provided new service lines to over 80 residents and businesses along US 12.

According to EGLE Representative and District Engineer Katelyn Reyes, PE, the water main was constructed as early as the 1930’s. “The Village’s 2017 Reliability Study stated that there were areas in the system where adequate fire flow cannot be maintained,” she said. “This was due to undersized water main and mineral buildup reducing the flows in existing pipes. By replacing the water main, the Village has improved fire flow availability and increased reliability of the water system.”

The project was substantially completed in 2021, but this Phase I Public Works project is just the beginning. As this project is completed, additional phasing is underway:

2023-2024: Phase IIA – Lead Service Line Replacement Project
The Village received a $1.2 million grant by EGLE (Booker Grant) to replace water service pipes that are non-compliant for up to 120 homes. This is free to the homeowner from the property line to the water service meter. JPR completed the Project Plan and application for this project in 2017.

2024-2025: Phase IIB – Water System Improvement Project
The Village will replace approximately 50% of their water main infrastructure, update their water tower, and replace a drinking water supply well through the USDA-Rural Development program. As the system has only one water tower, this is extremely critical. JPR completed the Preliminary Engineering Report and application for this loan in 2023.

2024-2026: Phase III – Consolidation and Contamination Risk Reduction Project
A 2020 study conducted by EGLE confirmed PFAS and PFOA contaminants in private drinking water wells on approximately 45 parcels of land south of the Village. Due to this, the Village was awarded a $3 million grant by EGLE to extend their municipal drinking water distribution system to this area. JPR applied for this first-time grant on behalf of the Village in 2021. The grant will cover the engineering and construction cost to extend the pipes to each home at no cost to the homeowner, as well as the restoration and decommissioning of their private well.

Read more about this.

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