Benton Township Trustees approve water system improvements

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township will improve a portion of its water system to prevent serious problems for Higman Park residents.

The township’s trustees Tuesday gave a Stevensville-based engineering company approval to design the project and seek bids.The project would include installation of a water main from the north end of Higman Park Hill No. 2 to Sylvan Road. Workers would replace the existing water main near residential structures.

Merritt Engineering Inc. reported to trustees the project would cost about $138,150.

The estimate included 15 percent set aside for contingencies.

The actual project cost will be determined by final design, contractor pricing and quantities used for construction.

“It’s a good idea for the township to do this because it remedies two problem areas in the water system,” said Rob Andrew, Merritt Engineering’s vice president and professional engineer. “What was authorized was for our firm to begin designing the project and get permits from the (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) and contractor bids.”

Andrew said they expect construction to begin in the spring.

The new main would go along the Lawton Avenue right of way, move along Rocky Gap Road and go through the easement to Sylvan Avenue.

In addition, the project would replace a water main near the south end of Higman Park Hill No. 2, moving it away from a garage and home.

Andrew said the project will improve service pressures, water quality, system reliability and maintainability and eliminate two dead ends in the system.

“That area has had less-than-desirable water service,” he said. “The service pressure is less than other sections. Available flow is less than desirable to fight fire. Because there are dead ends, they need to be flushed out. In a water system you need the water mains to be looped, but these lines just end. Those (dead ends) exist in all systems, but sometimes they are unavoidable.”

Water Distribution Supervisor Mike Baldwin said water officials were aware of the system’s problems when they took it over from Benton Harbor five years ago.

“We haven’t had any problems, but we are trying to avoid any,” Baldwin said. “The pressure at Higman Hill is really low, so we are trying to be proactive with it. If there is a problem on either hills, we would have to shut both of them down. By doing this, we would keep water running in the area.”

The project will be covered by the township’s Water Fund.

Baldwin said the area was identified in a utility study as the biggest problem to the township’s water system.

“On the southern end of Higman Hill No. 2, there will be some work done,” Baldwin said. “The water main is built very close to houses. We’ll move that water main away from the houses. If there’s ever a break, there could be serious washout issues.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 17, 2015)

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