By Kaylee David
Grand Ledge Staff Writer
Grand ledge residents experienced periods of low water pressure and discolored water this past week because of the annual flushing of the city’s water mains.
The Department of Public Services finds it necessary each year to flush out the city water mains to reduce the amount of mineral build up in the city’s water. This process takes one week to complete.
Larry LaHaie, the city’s public service director, said Grand Ledge gets its water from wells and the groundwater contains fairly high levels of iron. The iron naturally occurs as a result from the bedrock that the water is drawn from, he said.
“If you lived here you would have a water softener for sure,” said Mayor Kalmin Smith. He said that they dig multiple wells just outside of the city to find their own source of water.
“We run a filtration plant that removes 95 percent of that iron, but the remaining five percent over time settles out in the water mains,” said LaHaie. Grand Ledge has pipelines about 8 to 12 inches in diameter that underlie every street in town, about 47 miles of water mains total. Each home in Grand Ledge is connected to one of the larger pipes running underneath the street.
LaHaie said that the remaining five percent of iron accumulates and becomes a “fluffy posit” which is like a deposit. After about a year, the iron will release and residents will get rusty water in their homes, he said.
The Department of Public Services flushes the city water annually to prevent rusty water. “We will go around town and systematically open fire hydrants connected to water mains and flush the water out into the street to flush out the iron deposits,” said LaHaie.
The wells are located within 500 yards of the Grand Ledge water tower and treatment plant. Last week they flushed about a million and a half gallons per day down into the storm sewers. The flushed water then goes into a yard or street, then into the drains and flows out into the Grand River.
LaHaie said that during the process the Department of Public Services receives complaints. Bob Sickles a resident of Grand Ledge said, “It’s a little rusty when you first turn it on.”
Grand Ledge resident, Pam Voltattorni said there is lots of iron in the water. “We drink a lot of bottled water,” she said. However, the flushing doesn’t interrupt their day because the city notifies everyone and tells them the approximate hours that the flushing will occur, she said.
Although the water in Grand Ledge is high in iron, it is still safe to use and drink, said Smith. The Mayor added that although they have an iron removal plant, they are investigating working with the Board of Water and Light on a better filtration process.
The link below of the full water report for 2010 contains a table of the calculated amounts of un-regulated compounds.