Workers utilizing directional drilling for $500,000 project
ALMONT — As an essential human need, providing residents with access to safe drinking water is among the highest of priorities for municipalities.
As such, finding the best, most reliable and affordable ways to deliver water to homes and businesses weighs heavily on municipal leaders.
In Almont, where the cost of water has become burdensome for many residents, village officials are making conscious efforts to minimize additional costs.
Witness the village’s ongoing water main replacement project on Almont Avenue and Juliet Street, where workers from DVM Utilities are replacing 2,400 feet of old 4-inch water main with 8-inch C900 PVC to 43 homes.
Village Manager Mike Connors said the $495,000 project involves replacing 60-year-old transite cement pipe with contemporary materials.
Connors said workers are utilizing the “directional boring” process for installing the water line, significantly reducing the project’s overall cost.
“Directional boring is more affordable than the (traditional) open cut excavating method,” Connors said. “There’s a lot of time-consuming prep work involved with that process.”
Almont DPW Supt. Bryan Treat pointed out that “horizontal” drilling is also beneficial because it assures minimal impact on the existing cement driveways and approaches.
Treat said the ongoing upgrades, which he deems to be of primary need, should be completed by the first week in November.
“The old pipe has failed multiple times in the last couple years,” he said, “and it’s cost the village a ton of money in repairs.
“Though this is not the oldest underground pipe in the village, it’s definitely been the most problematic.”
Treat said the new PVC pipe comes in 40-foot sections, which are fused together for long-lasting durability.
“It’s been a long time since the village has been able to replace water main,” Treat noted. “And this is the first time we’ve used the directional drilling method.”
Travis Van Alst of Spicer Engineering said the directional boring method began in the late 1990s and has since become the standard for water main and other forms of underground installation.
“Directional boring is also more effective, because pipe is installed at an elevation that makes it easy to be located by modern technology,” Van Alst said. “Still, the biggest benefit of this process is its cost-effectiveness.”
Connors expects the project’s completion will bring an end to what had become a continuum of problems and costs for the village and affected residents.
“The water main project is one that is much needed and is funded by customers of the water system,” Connors said. “We are continuing to invest in the village’s infrastructure. With this project, we’re able to address a problematic area that has been prone to water main breaks.”
Treat is confident the new water main will continue to service homes in the area for many decades to come.
He pointed out that according to the manufacturer, the C900 PVC pipe now being installed is expected to last for up to 100 years.
“This project is a big deal for residents and for us,” Treat opined. “A lot of money goes into infrastructure and it’s necessary.
“Detroit water is some of the best water in the world,” he said, “but it costs money to deliver it to customers.
“This project shows that the village is doing what it can to provide residents the best quality of water at the most affordable cost.”
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.