Upper Peninsula legislators meet with city, county reps over emergency winter situation

ISHPEMING – Several Upper Peninsula legislators met with local city and county representatives at Ishpeming City Hall this morning to hear details and gather information about severe infrastructure problems facing local cities due to this winter’s extreme cold weather.

State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and state Reps. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, John Kivela, D-Marquette, and Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, heard statements about the dire situation cities in Marquette County and throughout the U.P. are facing with frozen water lines

Local officials hope the state legislators can convey the reality and urgency of an emergency situation that many local officials believe is not understood by Lansing lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Dozens of frozen and broken city water lines and mains caused by record-breaking cold temperatures have forced municipalities to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars over their budgets just to maintain a basic safe level of services.

Beleaguered Department of Public Works employees from the cities of Ishpeming and Negaunee, often working 12- to 15-hour days, have each done more than 400 water line thaws this winter and the city of Ishpeming has so far dealt with 13 water main breaks. City officials warned the legislators that the problems will only get worse as spring arrives, temperatures warm and the pipes and mains in the ground will shift.

Ishpeming DPW Superintendent Jon Kangas gave a short presentation to the lawmakers about the situation and estimated that the city, in trying to keep up with the problems, has spent nearly $300,000 already that wasn’t budgeted, and conservatively estimates another $500,000 to replace mains that they know are already broken.

For the full story, see Tuesday’s The Mining Journal.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.