Thereâ??s no way getting around it: this winter was brutal.
For many Upper Peninsula communities, the repercussions of unbelievably cold temperatures led to unbelievably high amounts of water used in let-run orders and multiple water main breaks. Itâ??s also caused some counties, like Marquette and Delta, to request that the Governor recognize a state of emergency in their areas. Gogebic County is waiting their turn.
â??This winter we've had over 250 different homes freezing up and a few of these homes had it frozen while the water was running,â?? said Ironwood Utilities Manager, Bob Tervonen. â??We went to go thaw those individuals out probably another 50 more times.â??
Drive through residential Ironwood and you'll see why they're hoping to receive a state declaration of emergency. Thereâ??s an unsightly assortment of broken pipes and fire hydrants, temporary hoses and more leaks. Since the first week of December, crews have been battling continuing let-runs and broken and split mains.
â??Weâ??re pumping out an extra 750,000 gallons of water a day for the let-runs. Over time that's 52 to 55 million gallons of water,â?? Tervonen said.
â??On March 24, we declared a local emergency for Gogebic County because of all the freezes and the broken water mains,â?? said Gogebic County Emergency Manger, Jim Loeper.
Even so, a local declaration wasn't going to cut it. On Friday, they requested that the Governor declare the county in a state of emergency. They have not currently heard back from the state whether or not the request is recognized. Until then, the crews carry on as before.
â??As far as I know, all of our hydrants are still frozen; all of our hydrant leads are in the frost line. I have eight homes that are still on temporary service with a garden hose from one home to the next,â?? Tervonen said.
The City of Ironwood is still requesting the current 1,400 residents on the let-run order continue running their water. In Ironwood alone, additional costs related to water issues come to $312, 408, not including $61,859 for regular time and $68,302 for regular time equipment. Theyâ??re especially hopeful for the state emergency status as anywhere from $644,000 to $800,000 of water main repairs are expected for the spring.