By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE — Although the number of reported infrastructure issues has been rare this winter, City Administrator Brandon Fournier said it’s hardly a unique problem.
“It’s a southeast Michigan issue, not a Southgate issue,” Fournier said.
Nearing the end of what meteorologists have called the most brutal winter since 1950, the combination of excessive number of sub-zero temperature days and heavy snowfall totals resulted in near-daily water main breaks that city crews had to repair.
“It’s not abnormal to have three or five in a week,” Fournier said. “But this winter compounded the problem. The guys have been dealing with them one a day.”
Fournier said last week that five water main breaks had been reported in just one day — Feb. 22 — and that wasn’t expected to slow down until temperatures return to seasonal averages.
“We’re probably going to have another rough week,” Fournier said. “As it warms up the problem will go down.”
Breaks had been reported throughout the community in subdivisions and on main roads. Fournier said last week at least two significant breaks were reported on Dix Toledo Road.
Reported breaks began increasing in January during the first round of sub-zero weather and continued through last week. Typically repairs were made within four to six hours, although larger issues took more time. Fournier said the city takes preventative measures to avoid breaks, and in recent years invested between $200,000 to $500,000 annually for upgrades.
No amount of prevention, however, could prevent infrastructure issues during extended periods of extreme cold, but Fournier said each of the problems has been dealt with in a reasonable amount of time.
“You name it and we’ve had to face it,” Fournier said. “But we don’t have anything that we haven’t been able to restore.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])