Grand Haven City Council has approved the purchase of a $10,000 valve actuator for the system.
"This will help out tremendously with the operations," City Public Works Director Bill Hunter said. “It simplifies it, makes it more efficient, and doesn’t have that scary ‘we lost all the water in the system’ (problem).”
City officials say an actuator is needed because, when Board of Light & Power operators attempt to switch from idle mode to melt mode, the operators have to turn down the outfall to the Grand River in order to make enough back pressure for the snowmelt system to work. Otherwise, a vacuum will occur in the system, causing the snowmelt system to flow to the river.
"You could actually cause the system to drain," Hunter said.
This drainage causes the municipal utility and the city hours of staff time to prime the snowmelt system for operation again.
Currently, there are three 20-inch valves under the Board of Light & Power parking lot, with two actuators installed. A third actuator will likely be the final one, Hunter said.
"There are no more actuators that you could install," he said.
According to city officials, to switch from "melt" to "idle" mode, it takes two employees to turn down the 20-inch idle supply line, creating positive pressure in the outfall to the river before the system can be switched back to melt mode.
With the installation of a third actuator on the idle mode supply line, the BLP operator will be able to make the switch any time of the day or night without losing pressure, saving energy and reducing costs.
City Manager Pat McGinnis said the money for the project will come from the city’s Public Improvement Fund. The Downtown Development Authority will pay back this expense, with interest, as a part of its tax increment financing of commercial properties.
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