Manager expects insurance will cover majority of costs

ALMONT — Village residents will not incur additional water costs related to the recent underground water leak that affected about 25 homes and businesses in the vicinity of Bristol, Spring and Water streets.

At least not directly.

Village Manager Mike Connors said he has contacted the village’s insurance carrier, the Michigan Township Participating Plan, regarding a claim on behalf of the village.

“I’ve also reached out to the Great Lakes Water Authority to see if there might be some relief they can offer,” said Connors.

Prior to the leak, village residences and businesses had been using about 180,000 gallons of water per day.

During the time of the leak, daily water usage increased by about 100,000 gallons to an average daily use of around 280,000 gallons.

Village Clerk/Treasurer Kim Keesler said DPW staff noticed a spike in water usage in early January, triggering an “all hands on deck” effort to locate the source of the leak.

After weeks of trying, on March 11, DPW workers were able to isolate the exact location of the leak through the use of inspection cameras and a “sounding device,” provided by Michigan Pipe Inspection.

What they discovered was a break in a one-inch underground service line near the corner of Water and Bristol streets, where water had been draining into the sanitary sewer.

“They attached a sounding device to the fire hydrant near that corner and they could hear the water rushing through,” said Keesler. “Because the leak was underground, there was no “bubbling” or other evidence of the leak at the surface.

After shutting off the water and making repairs to the broken service line and a section of sanitary sewer, DPW staff flushed the hydrant and submitted post-leak water samples to the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to assess the water quality.

A boil-water alert was put into effect for residences in the affected area until Friday, when the alert was lifted by MDEQ.

Keesler said the total number of gallons lost and associated costs will not be known until Great Lakes Water Authority issues its next monthly bill.

“We did notice that our January water bill was about $4,000 more than is typical,” said Keesler, who added that the village is bracing for a similarly higher February bill.

The village will also have to absorb the cost of overtime hours for DPW employees and for consultants and outsourced services required to locate the leak and fix the problem.

It is expected those added costs will have to come out of the village’s coffers.

Connors acknowledged the shared participation of Rowe Professional Services, Great Lakes Water Authority, Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality, Aqua-line Leak Detection, Michigan Rural Water Association and Michigan Pipe Inspection.

In particular, he complimented the efforts of Almont DPW staff, who worked extra shifts and over weekends to track down the source of the leak.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.