May 30, 2024
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By Annie Doyle

Last week, Charlevoix Middle/High School students received an unexpected break when classes were cancelled on Sept. 14-15 due to a broken water well.

According to Mike Ritter, Superintendent of Charlevoix Public Schools, the Charlevoix Public Schools were faced with an emergency situation on the evening Sept. 13, when water pressure dropped at the Marion Center Boulevard school. Lead custodian Dan Kitley discovered a major leak about 4-5 feet from the wellhead. He then informed Superintendent Mike Ritter.

Ritter stated that the exact cause is not known, but the original pipe (estimated to be around 20 years old) might have failed due to the excessive pressure exerted by the water on the pipe joint.

The leak had been discovered at around 2:30 am, which was too late for an immediate solution.

The excavation was needed, and a company with expertise in well drilling was called upon. Ritter called Gibson’s Excavating for the excavation work, and Ramsby Well Drilling to repair the pipe.

The health department advised that to ensure compliance with the regulations of the Department, the water at the school wellheads and water pipes should be filled with 2,000 gallons chlorinated water. This water must sit for a minimum of 24 hours prior to the first water test. The second sample was collected 26 hours after the first.

On Sunday, September 17, the city’s Water Treatment Plant announced that both water samples passed their testing. Dan Riley, Charlevoix Township’s Water Operator-in-Charge, was present on both Friday and Saturday to facilitate water sampling. The chlorinated water from the pipes was removed on Sunday in order to prepare for the reopening of the school.

On Monday, September 18, the school was reopened. Kevin Coen, a John E. Green employee, and Kitley Nichols from John E. Green worked together to clean the water pipes so the kitchen, bathrooms and water fountains could function.

According to Ritter, the yellowish coloration in sinks that was seen on Monday is due to residual iron, which occurs when your water system starts up.

He said that the chlorine had been flushed out of the system over the course of the weekend, after it passed the testing.

Ritter thanked all of the tradespeople who were involved in the resolution. He also thanked Riley, from Charlevoix Township for his help and Kristy forrest from the Health Department for her advice.

Ritter stated that she still had to work with the state in order to answer the question of whether the holidays would impact on the calendar year.

He said that one of the days would be an infrastructure shutdown, and it will count like a “snow day.” We may be able count Friday as a day of school because teachers from CMHS were on a remote day for professional development and Charlevoix elementary students had a normal school day.

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