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Lansing Fire Station 4

Election workers' endurance at North Lansing Fire Station #4 was challenged during the June 26th federal primaries earlier this summer when the water system stopped working.  Fire Commissioners said that the aging North Lansing Water System has been unreliable to the point where, despite the difficulties of drilling a well in the area that delivers usable water, they want their own well.  Fire Commissioner Robert Wagner said that the project could cost as much as $25,000 depending on how successful the project is.

"If you've got to have it, you've got to have it," Wagner said. "You can't just say we're going to spend this much and if we don't have it, that's it.  It is up and running but we don't want to trust the North Lansing Water System.  I think we ought to get moving on it because we're going to be into September by the time he drills it and we get someone to hook it up and doing the landscaping."

According to District Secretary and Commissioner Alvin Parker the private water system only serves six clients, who chip in to keep it running.  Two wells feed an underground tank.  Compressed air pushes the water through the line from the pump house through a line beneath Locke Road, behind Linda's Diner to the fire station.  Another line crosses Route 34 at Locke Road, and runs behind houses that hook up to it.  Parker estimated that the system is around 60 years old.  The system failed Election Day morning, and wasn't restored until around 1pm.  62 people voted at Station 4 that day.

"The pump went on Election Day," Parker said. "As far as I can tell the pump in one of the wells wasn't pumping so he shut that off, but I think he shut off the wrong pump.  The bad pump had already quit so there was no water.  So he turned the other pump on and got water.  Anyway, all six users didn't have any water."

North Lansing Water SystemA pump house and underground tank on Locke Road bring water to six users in North Lansing, including Station 4

Parker added that was one of many incidents, including one where the water was not working for about a week because of leaks in the system.  He said they've always managed to fix it, but the Election Day outage was the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back'.

District Treasurer George Gesslein said that Linda's Diner, next door to Station 4, has a good, working well.  He warned it would be useful to get information about that well before digging a new one because it is so hard to get good water in an area that is fraught with salt and sulphur in the water.

"My neighbors just drilled a well on Sharpsteen Road, and they can't drink the water," he said. "It depends on how deep you go and you get down to a certain level and start hitting salt and sulphur and all kinds of stuff.  I looked at the state records and the wells in that particular area run anywhere from 100 to 300 feet.  They all seem to get a maximum of two gallons per minute in that particular area.  And we have to make sure that we have enough water for things like a pancake breakfast.  You're not going to get a pancake breakfast on a half a gallon per minute, like I have."

Commissioners said that it is unlikely they could get enough water to wash fire trucks or fill tankers, but noted that it is important to have good, reliable water for the many events that take place at the fire station, including a series of pancake breakfasts helped by the North Lansing Auxiliary, as well as their famous Election Day Dinner and Supper.  Last November Auxiliary volunteers served 225 dinners and 452 suppers on Election Day for a total of 677 meals.  Wagner said it might be necessary to install a tank that acts as a cistern to store water in order to insure there is enough for events.

Parker said that a contract from Randolph Well & Pump Co. Inc. specified a minimum drilling charge of $2,500 plus additional expenses for equipment and parts, and a per-foot charge.  Gesslein said that drilling a well is a gamble because it is never certain that you will actually get any water, let alone usable water.

"You can't answer any of these questions until you have drilled the well," he said. "If you drill a well you might be good or you might not be good -- who knows?"

The commissioners voted 4/0 to drill a well.

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