Where in the world does your tap water come from anyway? Good question! If you live in Byron Township or Gaines Charter Township and you are hooked up to “city” water, then your water originally comes from beautiful Lake Michigan. Byron Township and Gaines Charter Townships are wholesale customers of the City of Wyoming and purchase their water from them. The City of Wyoming has a water treatment plant out in Holland. They intake water from Lake Michigan, treat the water, and distribute it through underground water mains. Township water mains connect to the Wyoming water system. For more information about the City of Wyoming Water Treatment Plant or to schedule a tour of it – City of Wyoming Water Treatment Plant.
Making sure our customers are getting safe water is a top priority. Since the BGUA doesn’t do the initial treatment of the water, what do we do to ensure township residents are getting safe water?
We take a variety of water samples. Each week we take multiple water samples from various locations throughout both Byron Township and Gaines Charter Townships and send them for testing to ensure there isn’t any harmful bacteria in the water.
Lead and Copper testing are required every three years and those will be done in 2019.
There are many other sample requirements done throughout the year in addition to the ones taken weekly. More information on other things we sample and test for can be found in our Water Quality Report.
Routine Maintenance – We regularly schedule maintenance to:
- Inspect and flush fire hydrants (fixing those that need repair). Fire hydrants are used for more than just putting out fires. We use fire hydrants frequently to maintain water quality. Hydrant flushing can help clean out the water main and can also help boost chlorine levels where they may be low. Fun Fact: there are currently 2,727 fire hydrants within both townships. In 2018, BGUA inspected 1,597 hydrants and repaired 338.
- Inspect and turn water main valves (These valves turn off/on certain sections of water main in the event of a water main break or repair). Water mains are located approximately 5 feet under the ground. There are valves positioned at certain places on the water main so that sections of main can be isolated. Fun Fact: there are 2,376 water main valves within both townships. BGUA turned or did maintenance on 1,039 valves in 2018.
- Fix or raise to grade stop boxes (individual house/business water turn off). It is important that we can find and access a stop box in case of an emergency. Reasons your water may need to be turned off: a plumbing leak in the home, plumbing changes being done, extended vacation, winterization of the home. Fun Fact: In 2018, we repaired 62 stop boxes.
Each month we send an employee out to get the meter reads for both Byron Township and Gaines Charter Township. We do NOT do the actual billing. We read the meters for the townships. The townships do all of the billing. Residents are billed on a quarterly schedule.
- Any questions about your water bill need to be directed to the township.
- Any payments for billing need to be done through the township.
- Gaines Charter Township 1-616-433-2916 Byron Township 1-616-878-9066
Meter reading used to be done largely by walking house to house and getting a read from a readout located on the outside of the house (your actual water meter is inside your home – wiring runs from the meter to a readout located on the exterior of the house). However, as technology evolves, we evolve. We are upgrading our reading system to read most meters remotely with a computer. A meter reading device attached to your water meter sends a read using radio frequency to our computer. Meter reading is able to be completed much faster and more efficiently. Fun Fact: In the first quarter of 2019, we read a total of 11,820 meters…10,611 were done by computer and only 1,209 were done by walking to get the read. In comparison, the first quarter of 2003 we read a total of 6,338 meters…338 were done by computer and 6,000 were read by walking to get the read. Wow! There has been a lot of growth since 2003 and a lot less walking by our meter reader.
Water Meter Installation:
- New Construction – Call BGUA to set an appointment for a water meter to be set. We will need the water permit number for that house/business. Permits are purchased through the Township office. Please note that the driveway and sidewalk need to be poured and Stop Boxes need to be to grade before we will set the water meter. If it is too cold for pouring concrete, a stop box waiver can be signed allowing the meter to be set. The waiver says that the person/business signing is responsible for the stop box and will fix any problems that may occur when driveway and sidewalk are poured. Please note that waivers are only done from Dec 1 – April 1. Sidewalks and Driveways need to be in by May 1 after the waiver is granted. We will do an inspection of the stop box once the sidewalk and driveway are in. Here is information for plumbing a domestic meter without irrigation: Meter Set Drawing Fun Fact: BGUA set 322 New Domestic meters in 2018
- Meter Exchange – in the event that a water meter stops working or has any sort of malfunction, we will need to get into your house and exchange that meter with a new one. The townships may elect to exchange your water meter due to age or to upgrading the meter reading system. New technology for reading a meter doesn’t always have the capability to work with older water meters. Fun Fact: In 2018, BGUA exchanged 556 meters
- Irrigation Meters – a separate meter can be installed for underground irrigation. A regular domestic/house meter gets charged for water usage and for sewer usage (since most water is generally going down the drain). With an irrigation meter, a customer would be charged only for water (since the water is going into the yard and not down the drain). The BGUA will set that irrigation meter after the plumbing permit has been purchased and the plumbing modified to accommodate the irrigation meter. For a more detailed description of the process: Byron Twp Irrigation Meter Process or Gaines Charter Township Irrigation Meter Process Specification for the piping configuration for an irrigation meter can be found here: Irrigation Meter Set Drawing Fun Fact: In 2018, BGUA set 116 irrigation meters.
“Miss Dig” is a service that can be used when digging will be done on a property. In order to dig safely, the Miss Dig service will send out a notification to any utility provider letting them know an address/location and date of an upcoming dig. All utilities will come out and mark their locations. Once the BGUA gets a Miss Dig, we will come out and mark any water related services on the public right-of-way of the property with blue paint and flags. We do not stake on the private side of the property. Fun Fact: In 2018, BGUA marked water for 7,364 Miss Dig requests.
Miss Dig – can be contacted by going to www.missdig.org or calling them at either 811 or 1-800-482-7171.
- Water Service Inspection – When a new water customer is hooking up to township water main, we have an inspector on site to watch the installation. We inspect the water service from the stop box until that service enters the house/business. Fun Fact: We inspected 311 new water connections in 2018.
- Cross Connection Inspection – It is important to make sure the drinking water (also called potable water) does not connect with something that could compromise the water. When a water customer uses water along with anything that could harm the water, a form of protection is used to keep the water supply safe. Backflow preventers are required. Backflow Testing Irrigation We have a Cross Connection program in place to keep track of backflow preventers and their required testing. Backflow Preventer Testing Form Fun Fact: In 2018, our inspector did 249 Cross Connection inspections.
There are currently three water towers within Byron Township and Gaines Charter Township. Water towers not only hold an excess of water but they also help maintain water pressure in the mains. We do security checks on these sites daily.