MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WZZM) -- City Manager Natasha Henderson is responding to complaints that the Muskegon Heights Water Department isn't doing enough to thaw frozen water service to homes. Since January, WZZM 13 On Your Side has reported on several residents who have gone without water for days.
Henderson says crews have been working with a large adapted truck to thaw frozen water lines. "Over eight hours a day that truck is out and we have staff that has to be there when it is out."
Henderson says the city is trying to keep up. So far this winter, 89 water services have frozen and 70 have been repaired. "It has been very difficult." Difficult because the city has only located one company to contract with to do the work. Most welding companies don't want to thaw pipes because of liability concerns. "It is good if it takes one hour; it can take three hours," she said.
Henderson says the city is thawing lines frozen on the residents side of the water meter-- something the city is not required to do. "The homeowner has to show the burden of proof that it is actually on the city's end." This winter that policy is being adjusted. "We have relaxed some of that as far as the burden of proof."
Last month city staff used the equipment to help the Gray family on Columbia Avenue, now Martin and Suzanne Gray's water service is frozen again and they are back to getting water from neighbors. They called city hall but Suzanne Gray says their home is a low priority. "They say on the bottom of the list."
Natasha Henderson says the Grays are put on the list in the order which they call. "However we do have priority for individuals," that is, if it's the first time their pipes have frozen. Right now, city crews are averaging four to six locations a day, so next week help might arrive at the Gray home.