Last spring, a water pipe burst on Mulligan’s Hollow water tank hill, washing tons of sand, debris and trees down the rushing gully of water. The devastation to the dune proved immeasurable.
A patch was put in place, and the dune restored, but uncertainty remained.
“We have no reason to believe this won’t last another 30-40 years, but it could break this year,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.
To make sure it doesn’t cause a major headache, the city plans to replace all of the water lines in the hill that lead to the supply tanks.
“We’ve got a 2.5 million gallon tank and a 500,000 gallon tank, and all of the supply and distribution lines are very old,” McGinnis said. “City fathers learned early on that was the highest point in town and the best place to store water.”
When the washout occurred last year, Department of Public Works crews looked at the failed pipes and noticed they were from 1913. Sections of the old pipes are on display outside of City Hall.
“That’s a very sensitive environmental location,” McGinnis said. “A 100 years ago, they didn’t think about the ecosystem.”
The new project will replace a 12-inch cast iron section of water main that runs from the tanks and heads toward Elizabeth Street; replace pipes in the fenced-in area and small section outside of the area that connects to a line at Sherman Street; and another section would be replaced that connects to Lake Avenue.
McGinnis estimated the cost of the latest project would be $640,821. Funds would come from reserves in the city’s Water Fund and General Fund.
“This is a good example of why it is important that we have reserve funds available,” he said. “We try to keep our reserves at a reasonable level.”
The cost is in addition to $257,725 that was spent earlier this year to fix the initial washout. The price includes repairs to the water line and restoration of the hill. The funds came from the Water Fund and Public Improvement Fund.
“That was an unfortunate and expensive wakeup call,” McGinnis said. “If you wait for it to break, it costs you significantly more.”
To read more of this story, see Saturday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.