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City sewer line repair starts April 16

W. Muskegon between Fifth and Seventh St

Drivers who travel on West Muskegon Street will want to avoid the area of road between Fifth and Seventh Streets for about the next three weeks while a sewer line is replaced.

According to Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack, the City Department of Public Works staff recently identified a sewer line break underneath Muskegon Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. “While repairing that sewer break, the next section of pipe in the line crumbled as a result of the work being done on the first break,” he explained. “Upon further inspection, that entire section of concrete pipe was determined to be in very poor condition and likely to have continuous breaks in the line until it is replaced. The City has decided to replace that whole section of line of about 500 feet from Fifth Street to Seventh Street to prevent more emergency repairs.”  

Womack said that the two recent emergency repairs cost approximately $30,000 and the sewer line replacement is expected to cost approximately $100,000. This sewer replacement project is expected to start on April 16 and will last for about 3 weeks.  

“As was done with the emergency repairs, Muskegon St. will likely have the eastbound travel lane closed down; the DPW will try to keep the center lane open for eastbound traffic but may be forced to divert traffic as the work dictates,” said Womack. “The City asks that you plan your travels to avoid this section of road, if possible, from April 16th for approximately 3 weeks.”

Womack explained that the sewer pipes in the City consist of a mixture of different types of materials, including concrete, clay tile and a small amount of PVC pipe. 

“Each sewer line was placed into the ground at different times and each different pipe is acted upon by different forces that affect its lifespan prior to breakage occurring. The sewer line in question is concrete and was placed in the ground around 1950. Concrete sewer lines have an expected lifespan of 50-75 years but this number can be significantly reduced by many factors such as soil and air characteristics, installation specifics, velocities in a sewer line, detention times, temperatures within the pipe, electrical currents in the surrounding soil, the presence of toxic materials (metals can reduce bacterial activity), acidity of the sewage, and turbulence amongst other factors. The City has ongoing sewer testing and maintenance that helps reduce these breaks and is currently involved in a grant-subsidized process to televise and identify all pipes in the City so that we can schedule replacing pipes that are in poor condition before they break.

“Water and sewer line breaks are obviously something we try to avoid and are something that require immediate fixing if they occur.  The water and sewer systems are almost entirely self-funding and their user fees are what pay for the pumping, treatment and transportation of the municipal water and also the collection, transportation and cleaning of the sewage that leaves houses and businesses. City staff also spends a significant amount of time testing and monitoring the water and sewer systems to ensure that there are minimal downtimes and that the water is safe to drink and the sewage is made safe before being released back into the environment. No tax dollars are used to pay for this process.”

Next week Womack will talk about the history of the city’s water and sewer rates and how they are set.

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