February 20, 2013 - xford Township officials last week unanimously approved the extension of a water main in the area of Indian Lake Rd. and M-24 which would allow the municipality to have an emergency water connection with neighboring Orion Township.
And it won't cost Oxford a dime as Orion has agreed to pay for it all.
"It's a no-brainer," said Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn to this reporter. "We get a water connection that could benefit either community should one of us need it and Oxford doesn't have to pay for it. Where do I sign?"
An emergency connection would allow each community to share water with the other in the event of an emergency that impairs one of the municipality's ability to provide water to its citizens. This way each community is assured it will have water, whether it's for drinking or to fight fires.
Oxford Township derives its water from its own municipal system supplied by wells and treated by two local plants whereas Orion receives its water from Detroit.
The emergency connection was proposed by C. William Ireland, director of Orion's Department of Public Works (DPW).
In a Jan. 23 letter to Dunn, Ireland explained that the DPW is developing engineering plans to extend water to the Long Lake Woods subdivision, located in the vicinity of M-24 and Indian Lake Rd. The project is anticipated to begin this spring.
Given this water main extension would be located right by the Oxford-Orion border, Ireland wrote, "This would be a great opportunity to make an emergency water connection."
"I think it's a great idea," he told the board.
The supervisor explained that Oxford already has a fire hydrant situated in that area, so making an emergency connection would entail "basically . . . just throwing in a length of pipe" to link the two townships' water systems.
Township engineer Jim Sharpe informed the board it must also be determined if the two water systems are "compatible" as far as water pressure is concerned.
"If Orion's at 90 pounds (of pressure) and we're at 50, then (Oxford's) water is never going to make it into that system, even in an emergency situation," he said.
"I think the more of these emergency connections we can make, the better it is for our residents," Dunn told this reporter. "Water's one of the most basic and important things your local government can provide. It's part of the whole health, safety and welfare thing. We need to make sure it's always available when people need it."
Oxford Township already has one emergency connection with Oxford Village's water system located on M-24 along the border of the two municipalities.
To ensure water from the two systems does not mix during non-emergency times, the connection is safeguarded by two locking gate valves.
Each gate valve has a different lock and key. The township and village each has its own key to its own lock. Both communities must unlock their gate valves in order for water to flow in either direction.
"It's very redundant," Dunn said.
When asked whether these locking valves would be installed as part of an emergency connection with Orion, Dunn replied, "I can't speak for Orion, but I don't think it's necessary."
"I think there only needs to be one on-off valve that either of us can (access) when we need to," he said. "We'd only open it after both townships have talked about it and agreed to do it. Nobody's looking to steal anybody's water."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.