Norton Shores, Fruitport Township make final preps before water switchover

Posted at 10:27 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-26 22:27:43-04

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Road closures and construction in parts of Muskegon County will ultimately affect what's coming out of the faucet for some area water customers.

In just three weeks, water customers in Norton Shores and Fruitport Township will no longer get water from the city of Muskegon Heights. The two communities will transition to a new agreement with the city of Muskegon as part of the West Michigan Regional Water Authority.

Preparations for the changeover include laying new piping under existing stretches of road which will result in road closures beginning March 30.

  •  March 30 - 31: Lincoln and Norman intersection planned for regional water main work. Alternate route suggested is Sherman, McCracken, Norton and Lincoln.
  • March 31 - April 1: Norton and Leon intersection planned for regional water main work. Alternate route suggested is Lincoln, Sherman and McCracken.
  • April 1 - 2: (Partial Closure) Norton and McCracken intersection planned for regional water main work.  Alternate route suggested is Norton, Roosevelt & Seminole.

“It has been a long time in the making and we’ve got a lot of work into it and a lot of work to go yet," said Brian Werschem, Fruitport Township supervisor.

The plan was set into motion four years ago with the goal of getting better water rates for customers after officials couldn't come to terms on a rate agreement with Muskegon Heights, according to Werschem.

“We fully expect, as we did when we entered into this, that we will see a decrease in our overall cost of water," he said.

“We put forth great ‘good faith’ efforts to renegotiate a deal and gave several options to either keep us as partners or customers and that fell on deaf ears.”

Wholesale prices on the Muskegon system will run $1.74 per 1,000 gallons compared to $1.79 per 1,000 gallons on the Muskegon Heights system. While virtually the same, Werschem argues it will provide a better chance at long-term price stability.

“Just the sheer volume the City of Muskegon is going to be able to produce and do it at such a more efficient rate, we’re looking at this as long term stability, not just of a couple years. We’re talking decades," he said.

Fruitport Township and Norton Shores will now make up roughly 40 percent of the Muskegon water filtration plant's capacity. The facility will now pump out a whopping 4.7 billion gallons of water annually, about 1.5 billion more than before the two communities joined the system.

The project required the sale of roughly $15.7 million in bonds to pay for upgrades to the Muskegon plant,  piping installation and a new one million gallon water tower.

The changeover will begin late April 14 and will take between 12-14 hours to complete. Werschem said if all goes as planned, water customers shouldn't notice anything different at the faucet.