But Spring Lake Township officials say their engineering firm has assured them that the 8-inch iron pipe is sound.
The top of the pipe rests above the bayou bottom where boats navigate from the bayou to the Grand River, according to Township Manager Gordon Gallagher. The pipe runs parallel with and underneath the bridge for the entire width of the bayou.
Because of low water levels, some area residents fear boat props may strike the pipe, causing a rupture and raw sewage leak. There have been reports of boaters hitting an underwater object in the narrow navigation channel under the bridge — but there is no way of knowing if what was hit was the sewer pipe or another object, such as concrete chunks that are prevalent in the area.
The Lloyd's Bayou Lake Board, which was recently reinstated after a six-year hiatus, met earlier this month. The sewer pipe and dredging were items of discussion.
Richard Postma, president of the Edgewater Condominium Association, said water depth is a concern. Edgewater Condominiums are immediately east of the bridge on the north side of Lloyd's Bayou.
“It was brought up about the sewer line and the fact it is not as low as it should have been constructed,” Postma said. “I'm sure people are starting to see the significance of that. I imagine if it would break by somebody hitting it, there would be a lot of sewage in Lloyd's Bayou.”
Gallagher confirmed that the sewer line was set at a higher elevation than engineering plans called for when it was installed under the Leonard Street bridge in the early 1980s.
“It appears to me that the placement of the sewer line across the Lloyd's Bayou channel was approximately 1.3 feet higher than originally designed,” Gallagher said.
The sewer line serves township residents who live southeast of the bridge — including the River Run subdivision, Leonard, Rannes, Pruin and 152nd Avenue.
Gallagher estimates it would cost about $1 million to relocate the pipe.
Lloyd's Bayou Lake Board Chairman Bob Lubbers said there are concerns about the pipe failing.
“There is no other place for the sewage to go,” he said. “That would make a stink in more ways than one.”
Lubbers said he suspects boaters might be hitting chunks of concrete in the shallow channel under the bridge. He said bayou residents paid close to $100,000 about five or six years ago to dredge a channel out to the river.
“Right now, we're having trouble getting boats out to the Grand River,” Lubbers said.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.