Creating Resilience in our Water Service
This past spring our teams undertook one of our largest water main projects, a project we have planned and designed for years.
Customers in the City of Holland south of Lake Macatawa receive water through three water mains: one under Lake Macatawa, one near the Holland State Park beach, and one under River Avenue under the bridge. Currently, most Holland BPW water customers receive water from the Water Treatment plant on the northside of Holland near Tunnel Park via our largest water main under River Ave., which is 36” in diameter.
In 2019, we contracted a reliability study of our water system. Results of the study indicated a need for redundancy with our largest water main. Redundancy ensures that our service is reliable, allowing for alternative water main paths that prevent service interruption in case an issue occurs. In response to the study results, we installed a new pipeline one block north of the existing water main to improve reliability.
Holland BPW provides water service for five regions, including the City of Holland, and some sections of Park, Laketown, Fillmore and Holland Charter Townships. We also have connections with Holland Township and the Wyoming Water Treatment Plant for emergency service. That way if our Water Treatment plant were to experience an issue, the Wyoming plant could provide water for HBPW customers.
This newly installed pipe provides a second pathway for water to reach Holland BPW customers, ensuring that all customers have primary and backup access.
This project not only provides resiliency for the surrounding areas and Holland BPW customers, but it also prepares our infrastructure for future climate change. Because of this additional climate resiliency and interconnection between our own mains and other municipal regions, this project was awarded Green Bond certification. Green bonds certify bond investments at competitive interest rates for projects that directly benefit the environment or that proactively prepare for future changes to our planet.
Not only have we made major improvements to our infrastructure, we have also continued to make progress on replacing all of Holland’s older galvanized steel and lead gooseneck pipes.
When Holland’s water main connections were installed years ago, contractors used galvanized pipe for most of the line instead of using lead. Galvanized steel worked as a great material, except at the connection point. Galvanized steel is difficult to bend, so for the final connection from the home to the water main contractors used 18 inch goosenecks made of highly flexible lead, as was common practice at the time. To keep our drinking water healthy, Holland BPW has proactively replaced these lead goosenecks over the years as we upgrade our systems.
Contrary to most other metals that disintegrate as they corrode, corroding galvanized pipes pick up deposits from other pipes in the system. Because these galvanized pipes once connected to lead goosenecks, lead deposits may have built up inside the galvanized pipe. For this reason, Holland BPW will replace all of the remaining galvanized lines over the next 20 years to meet regulations as the state now requires water service providers to treat galvanized water lines as if they were made of lead. Holland BPW will additionally replace the portion of galvanized pipe between the property line and residences, which is usually the responsibility of the homeowner.
So far, our teams have replaced 270 services in the first 3 years of the program. To maximize efficiency and to minimize disruption, we complete much of this work as we replace water mains such as the one along Pine Ave. Holland BPW anticipates the rate of replacement increasing in the coming years as the program matures, and as federal as well as state financing for lead service line replacement becomes more available.
Ensuring that the replacement process is equitable is a high priority for Holland BPW. As we communicate with customers and make decisions on which neighborhoods receive replacements when, we work with a Water System Advisory Committee that meets in the Spring and Fall.
To learn more about this committee or to attend their next meeting, visit the City of Holland’s website.