The Escanaba City Council Monday approved a State of Emergency for the water main break Thursday that closed a portion of the city and drained the city’s main water tower.
The action reaffirms Mayor Marc Tall’s declaration on Friday.
The council hopes to be eligible for reimbursement by the state for the cost associated with Thursday’s water main break although it doesn’t seem likely it will qualify.
The city says the break at 1st Avenue North and North 25th Street resulted in re-routed traffic at the city’s busiest intersection, loss of a million gallons of water, employee overtime and equipment issues.
City Controller Melissa Becote says invoices are still coming in but it doesn’t look like cost will be enough for the state to step in.
“We’re thinking we might hit $50,000 in total cost. Of that, only a small portion will be eligible. We’re not allowed to include regular wages, only overtime. So, it’s going to come down to what invoices we receive from others who assisted during the break,” said Becote.
Overtime costs are estimated to be about $5,000.
To be an emergency, Becote said allowable expenses would have to reach $23,000, which is one percent of the water department’s budget. She said it may be difficult to reach that threshold.
Delta County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Berbohm said it’s important for Escanaba to be on record and take the step of declaring a state of emergency.
He encouraged the city council Monday to support the state of emergency even if they don’t think they will qualify for state aid.
“I think, just to cover all the bases just in case there is further evidence of damage. This way, we are on track because the original emergency has to be declared within 24 hours. So, we are just basically dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s in case there are avenues for funding later on,” he said.
Berbolm said what makes the issue unusual is that the state declared a state of emergency ahead of the forecasted sub-zero temperatures. It’s still unclear how that might affect Escanaba’s situation.