Aerial mapping to assist Ishpeming with water project

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming City Council approved having the firm that provides engineering services to the city complete a thorough aerial mapping of Ishpeming.

GEI Consultants of Marquette will use the aerial mapping data to create a digital map of all of the city’s physical features, including roads, buildings, sidewalks and light and utility poles, among other structures; to do one-foot contour mapping throughout the city limits, thereby learning the city’s topography; and to provide the city with color digital orthophotos – photos that have been adjusted to correct for topographical issues, camera tilt and lens distortion, allowing for very accurate map measurements.

The services, for which the city will pay up to $26,900 from its water fund, will help GEI complete engineering work on the city’s existing water system infrastructure. Having a detailed digital map will also put the city in a better position to obtain loan and grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development water programs, allowing the city to finance water system improvements planned for 2016.

“It would be significant replacement of the existing water system,” Jon Kangas, superintendent of the city’s Department of Public Works, said of the potential improvements.

Kangas said the city plans to replace as much of its old cast-iron water main as possible based on how much money it receives, starting with areas of the city that suffer the most water main breaks. Areas of the city suffering fewer breaks could see replacement of universal and mechanical joints on water mains.

City Manager Mark Slown told the council that “this work is essential to (GEI) properly designing the engineering for the water system improvements.”

“The results of this work will belong to the city and we will have unlimited, uncontrolled access to them,” Slown said.

Kangas agreed the mapping would greatly aid the city.

“When I came to this city, this is some of the most important data that I always felt we were severely lacking,” he said. “I think that value is going to be paid for in a very short time.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is