City Keeping Waysides Open This Winter

Wisconsin DOT advised the City last summer that it will no longer be paying Manitowoc County to do winter plowing of the waysides along Memorial Drive.

Many local residents and visitors use these waysides YEAR ROUND to pause and enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan.   ..And maybe eat lunch, check e-mails or make a few phone calls.

So, starting this winter, City of Two Rivers Public Works crews are clearing snow and—to the extent necessary—spreading salt at the waysides along the lake, to keep them accessible for the driving public.  This constitutes “low priority work,” to be completed after all streets are cleared of snow and ice.  But it will get done.

This includes clearing the entry drive and a few parking spaces at large wayside opposite Woodland Drive.

The City of Manitowoc has started plowing the segment of Mariners Trail between that wayside and downtown Manitowoc, this winter, as an added service to hardy walkers, runners and bicyclists who might enjoy using the trail year-round.

Two Rivers has opted, as in past years, to not do such winter maintenance on the TR portion of Mariners Trail.  For winter 2016-17 this was a staff decision, based on budget restrictions and concerns about maintaining a truly safe walking/running surface.

In any event, access to our majestic views of Lake Michigan, both by vehicle and on foot, is being maintained this winter by the actions of the two cities.

City Council to Consider Ordinance on Lead Laterals

Starting at a work session on Monday of this week, and likely continuing for the next two regular meetings, the TR City Council will be considering new ordinances and policies related to replacement of water and sewer laterals.

Most significant among these proposals:  City staff is recommending that property owners be required (in most cases) to replace the privately owned portion of their water service lateral, whenever the City undertakes the replacement of the water main in front of their property.

The City routinely replaces the “public portion” of the water service lateral when it undertakes water main replacement.  That “public portion” is the lateral from the water main beneath the street to the shut-off valve, generally located between the curb and sidewalk.

In the past, replacement of the “private portion” of the service lateral (from the shut-off valve to the meter) has only been required if that service was found to be leaking.

Under the proposed new ordinance, the private portion of the lateral would have to be replaced if it is constructed of lead, steel, or copper with lead solder (generally pre-1984 installations).

This proposed change is in the interest of public health, given concerns about lead water lines.  The disturbance caused by replacing only the public section of a lead service lateral can actually worsen the situation, causing elevated leaching of lead from the remaining lead pipe in the private portion of the lateral.

If adopted, this new ordinance and related policy changes will first impact property owners along Lincoln Avenue and Pilon Court.  Both streets are planned for complete reconstruction, including water mains and services, in 2017.

The good news for property owners along these streets is that the City has secured grant funding of $235,000 from WI DNR to fund private lead lateral replacement, which should minimize the cost to those property owners.  (Replacement of the private portion of the lateral is estimated to cost $2,000 to $2,500 per property.)

Whether the City will be able to secure outside funding to assist with such private lateral replacement in the future remains to be seen.  We will make every effort to do so.  There are also proposals circulating at the State level that would allow cities to collect and spend monies through their water utilities to pay for such work.

Whatever the funding source, there is certain to be more of a push to “get the lead out” of our municipal water systems in the years ahead.  Just over half (2,600) of TR’s 5,100 water services contain lead.

While the City adds chemicals and actively monitors drinking water to assure that customers are protected against lead in their pipes, the highly-publicized situation in Flint, Michigan has brought this issue to the forefront.  And the only way to absolutely GUARANTEE that there’s no lead leaching from lead water system components is to get that lead removed.

There are also ordinance and policy changes being proposed that will address the need for property owners to replace their sanitary sewer laterals when sewer mains are being replaced.  More on those proposals next week.

Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley can be contacted by calling 920-793-5532 or by e-mailing gbuckley@two-rivers.org.

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