Public Works Water Distribution
The Water Distribution Division of the Public Works department is responsible for the safe, reliable delivery of potable water to your tap once it leaves the Water Filtration Plant. The division also ensures that there is adequate water for firefighting purposes at each of the 800 fire hydrants connected to the system. That system consists of nearly 90 miles of WATERMAIN, 5800 service lines and meters, three storage reservoirs and two booster pumping stations in the city that, together with 25 special control valves distribute the water to six separate pressure districts. In addition to completing emergency repairs to the physical components of the system when leaks develop, no matter what the weather, distribution system maintenance involves a variety of other routine tasks.
|Changing Water Meters||Replacing Service Lines|
|Cross-Connection Inspection||Service Calls|
|Guidelines to Prevent Lines from Freezing||Watermain Flushing|
|Inspecting Fire Hydrants||Water Samples|
|Inspecting Storage Tanks|
Water samples are collected daily from the farthest reaches of the distribution network and delivered to the Filtration Plant for analysis to assure that safe, pure water is available to all customers of the system.
Storage tanks are also inspected regularly for security reasons. At approximately five-year intervals they are drained for internal inspection, cleaning, and repair. Tanks are "off limits" to the public. Please respect the security fences and report those who do not.
Fire hydrants are inspected at least twice annually, lubricated and repaired as necessary, and most are supplied with an extension or marker to aid in winter time locating. Personnel spend much of the winter months clearing snow from around the hydrants to ensure accessibility in an emergency. During heavy snowfall winters, this can become a real challenge. You can help. Earn the gratitude of your neighbors and the appreciation of the Water Utility by keeping the area around the fire hydrant nearest you home clear of snow in the winter and neatly trimmed in the summer. Sorry, but the Utility does not allow hydrants to be painted to match your home. The bright yellow barrels are an important factor in keeping them highly visible to responding fire crews, even at night, and the color-coded caps alert firefighters on approach as to how many gallons per minute each hydrant can supply. The hydrants are installed primarily for Fire Department use but are available for other short term high volume uses, such as construction projects. A permit and meter are required for all private use of fire hydrants in the city. The permits are available at the Municipal Service Center, 850 W. Baraga Avenue.
Utility maintenance personnel also use hydrants to flush watermains in the City. Flushing helps to clear corrosion and other deposits from the pipes, and keep them delivering at maximum capacity. In unlooped sections of the system it draws fresh water into areas where low usage may allow it to become stagnant. Finally, flushing is one of the best tools for verifying that the pipe network is functioning properly and that an unseen problem has not compromised its performance. Personnel flush a different section of the system each year between June and September. The large volumes of water that are moved at high velocity can lead to some discoloration of the water that reaches nearby homes. It will usually clear after several minutes of running the tap wide open.
This activity involves controlled flow of water through the various distribution mains at high enough velocities to remove sediments out at hydrants at the downstream end of each section of water main. Flushing operations generally begin at the supply end of the system and fan outward throughout the system. This maintains high water quality, eliminates customer problems, and keeps flow capacity of pipes at optimum levels. It also helps to reduce the number of plugged or stopped meters, and reduces wear on pumps and control valves. This activity normally requires a two man crew with a pickup truck equipped with assorted hand tools and wrenches to operate valves and hydrants.
With nearly 6000 customers connected to the system, it seems someone is always starting service, disconnecting, remodeling or having a problem that requires a service call. In addition to turning on or disconnecting service, technicians install new meters, investigate unusually high bills, water quality issues, delivery volume complaints and problems with meters. They also relocate meters and outside readers when necessary, install lawn meters for those who purchase them, and help to locate underground lines. To schedule a service call contact Utility Billing at 228-0420. The office is staffed Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Labor Day to Memorial Day, but for customer convenience service technicians are available from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm.
For those single family residential customers who use large volumes of water outdoors, where it does not enter the sanitary sewer system, the utility makes lawn meters available. Customers may purchase these meters for installation in the line that feeds their outside hose tap or irrigation system. Call Utility Billing at 228-0420 to schedule an inspection of your plumbing to determine the appropriate location for installation and any plumbing charges required. The customer is responsible for plumbing charges. Utility personnel will install the meter. Multifamily and commercial properties may apply for lawn meters, but a variance from City Ordinance 48-118 is required. Lawn meters are the Utility's way of promoting a greener community.
At times, the utility will schedule an appointment with you. Service Technicians routinely change 500-600 water meters per year. The meters removed are tested, repaired, replaced, or if still measuring with specified precision, installed at a new location. Large diameter commercial meters may be tested in place. Utility personnel may also schedule appointments with customers to perform cross-connection inspections or leak detection on the customer's premises or to collect water samples for special regulatory compliance programs.
To protect the water system and its customers from chemicals and other contaminants that might inadvertently be introduced into the water through customer plumbing are the responsibility of the Utility Inspector. Certain plumbing devices and configurations are required to keep the contaminants in boilers, irrigation systems, aspirators, chemical and recycle tanks and other water-fed devices from finding their way into the water system. The city is charged by State law with verifying that appropriate protection is in place and maintained on the customer's premises. If you have any questions concerning backflow protection contact the Utility Inspector at 228-0444. If installing an underground irrigation system, contact the Utility Inspector to schedule an on-site inspection of the backflow protection that must be a part of such systems. Water piping must be protected from freezing. Pipes in garages or crawl spaces should be protected with heat tapes or insulation.
Many buildings in the Marquette area are plumbed with galvanized iron pipe. After 15 years of service, the carrying capacity of such pipe may be reduced by up to 50% by internal corrosion. Over longer periods, the capacity is further reduced and the supply may eventually prove inadequate for some appliances or families. Under such circumstances the service line from the main into the building, and sometimes the building's internal plumbing, may require replacement. If the volume of water available from your service seems inadequate, you may schedule an evaluation of its capacity by calling the city water distribution at 228-0444. Each year, several dozen of the worst service lines are replaced. The city will replace the portion of the line under the street right-of-way but requires property owners to install a new line from the property line to the meter. Type K copper tubing is used for the city's portion of the line with 1" diameter the minimum size installed.
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