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Sewer main collapse causes repair headache in Buchanan

BUCHANAN, Mich. -- An aging sewer main finally giving out to its old age has shut down part of the main road that runs through Buchanan for most of the week.

“We’ve battled real cold temperatures,” said JT Adkerson, Buchanan’s public services and safety director. “We’ve battled snow. We’ve battled rain. And today we’re getting a little bit of the very, very cold weather.”

It’s a messy job that’s been making waves (of sewage) since Tuesday.

“Later on [Tuesday] night, about 9 p.m., we realized that we had a sewer main collapse right in the 600 block of West Front Street,” Adkerson said.

Since that night, a half-mile stretch of West Front Street, between Ottawa and Chippewa streets, has been blocked off.

In the middle of it all is a giant hole crews had to dig to access the collapsed main, which was 20-feet underground.

After placing a temporary steel structure in the hole to keep it secure, crews began working to replace the long, thin sewage pipe that spent decades carrying waste through Buchanan.

Down the road, a large hose stretched into a manhole where the sewage was being rerouted Friday morning.

The collapsed line was a 62-year-old clay pipe.

Adkerson said the city’s pipes were last installed in 1956 and normally have a lifespan of about 50 years.

“When we have breaks like we do today, it also deposits sediments and rocks and sand and what not, and that also bound up our pumps and our lift station,” he said.

Adkerson said one of the city’s seven lift stations became a challenging part of this repair.

It sits right next to where the pipe collapsed, and about 7-feet of sediment quickly filled the station, which is 30-feet deep and 4-feet wide.

Crews, including a construction company from Niles brought in by the city, worked into the late evening on Friday trying to complete the job.

Adkerson said no sewer or water lines had to be shut off in any of the nearby homes throughout the week, but it will be good to get things back to normal.

“This sewer main takes about 70,000 to 100,000 gallons of sanitary sewer daily,” he said.

Though nearby homes weren’t impacted by the collapse, the one business that sits right by the repair zone has been blocked in by the construction all week.

The owner of Buchanan Floral said off-camera that he was just happy this didn’t happen over a holiday.

Adkerson said his team is in the process of inspecting all of the other aging pipes in the city.

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