By Sue Moore
A boil-water alert for Vicksburg village residents went out on Friday, September 8 at 11:48 a.m. Residents and businesses were cleared to drink village water on Tuesday, Sept. 13, according to Village Manager Jim Mallery.
This type of notice has only gone out once before during the 25 years that Ken Schippers has been employed by the village as head of the Department of Public Works, village manager and in semi-retirement as the person responsible testing water quality. He routinely takes samples at five locations and sends them to a lab for sampling and reports the results to the state’s Department of Environment Quality (DEQ). A sample taken on Sept. 6 came back with a positive presence of coliform, a bacteria associated with animals’ intestinal tracts. Schippers took more samples on Thursday and Friday. They tested positive even though the village had started adding chlorine to the system at noon on Friday. Vicksburg does not chlorinate its water unless an emergency like this occurs.
Notification went out to schools, day care facilities, Kalamazoo Emergency Management and local businesses. A press release went out at 1:33 p.m. Sept. 8 to radio stations, TV and MLive. A notice was placed on the village’s Facebook page. Village officials were present at the high school Tailgate community celebration that Friday to answer questions. “Every tool in the bag was utilized,” Mallery told the Village Council at its Monday, Sept. 11 meeting.
Still there were some village residents who were unaware of the edict and unhappy about how they found out. “We are exploring additional ways to contact and reach out to our citizens,” Mallery said.
Schippers is investigating where the contamination might have occurred. In the meantime, the water will be treated for 30 days until Schippers and the DEQ are positive the coliform is completely abated.
Trustee Ron Smith encouraged the village to consider better signage downtown. He showed concern about the walkability and bicycling at three corners where it isn’t clear who has the right of way. The speed limit throughout the village is 25 mph, Mallery said. “My car goes 25 mph without even putting my foot on the gas,” Trustee Gail Reisterer said. Mallery agreed to look at options that might make intersections at Washington and S. Main, Kalamazoo and E. Prairie and Michigan and W. Prairie safer.
A community policing forum was announced for Monday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. at the District Library where citizens can attend and discuss concerns with the new police chief, Scott Sanderson.