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City Blog

Feb 10

Winter water main breaks not uncommon

Posted on February 10, 2021 at 4:14 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

As we enter the February part of winter in southwest Michigan, neighbors have noticed that we have reported multiple water main breaks in a short period of time.

Most of the time - and this is true now - the fluctuating temperatures cause water main breaks. This is why we see an increase in the number of breaks during winter months.

The freezing temperatures drive the frost into the ground, causing the soil to move. When we experience temperatures warming and cooling throughout the winter, this process can happen over and over, causing additional breaks as the soils press on the pipes.

Sometimes we need to issue a boil water advisory once crews repair a main break. This depends on the repair; if the crew has to drain the water main or experiences negative water pressure, they will issue a boil advisory. These situations could allow bacteria into the system, so a boil advisory is always a precaution in this scenario. Typically, in 24 hours, we can cancel those advisories.

Once crews complete a repair, they typically release air from the water system by flushing nearby fire hydrants. However, you might see some air release from your faucet, because it can become trapped in home service pipes before crews flush it out.

You can sign up to receive text and/or email alerts related to our water system. Visit battlecreekmi.gov/notifyme, and sign up for Water System Information under the Alerts category.

For home water tips to prevent freezing pipes, take a look at our Winter Water Check-in.

Two men in work vests and hard hats stand next to hole in street, with excavator nearby

Jan 20

City-owned vacant lots

Posted on January 20, 2021 at 12:04 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

A neighbor asked us about vacant, city-owned lots during a recent City Commission meeting, so here is some information about those, for everyone's benefit.

We currently have 725 vacant city properties. "Vacant" means the lot doesn't have any structures, like water towers or lift stations, but it does include parks and parking lots. If the lot is not used for a public purpose, we assess and place a value on the parcels.

Of those properties that are not exempt, the proposed 2021 state equalized value is $685,060.

How we sort city-owned parcels:
  • Can be listed with a real estate agent
  • Should be maintained for development opportunities
  • Can be turned into side lots
  • Should be considered to give to the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority, due to the amount of surrounding land, and/or little or no private ownership in the area
Over the last six or seven years, we have used inquiries, bulk direct mail notices of availability, and a lot sale event to remove about 300 city taxable parcels from that list. Lot sales have been on hold since because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have a handful we are working to process.

We planned a bulk mailing last spring, to seek interest on parcels we designated as side lot opportunities, and planned to list others with a real estate agent. Unfortunately, the pandemic disrupted those plans.

Depending on staff capacity, we hope to pursue the sale of taxable vacant lots in 2021.

Grassy, empty lot with a sidewalk at the lower left corner
Oct 30

City, WM tackle recycling contamination with tagging on Mondays

Posted on October 30, 2020 at 2:32 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

By Patty Hoch-Melluish
Environmental and Storm Service Manager


The City of Battle Creek and our contracted waste hauler, Waste Management, will pilot a recycling cart tagging program to help with the city’s ongoing recycling contamination problem.

Starting the week of Nov. 2, Waste Management drivers will focus on small sections of the City’s Monday recycling route to identify recycling carts that are contaminated with non-recyclable materials. Waste Management will tag contaminated Monday carts with a red sticker on the lid, indicating that there is trash or other non-recyclable materials in the recycling cart.

Waste Management will not empty your cart if they tag it; this is not a missed pickup. If WM tags your cart, you must correct the situation by removing the contamination. The tag will include WM’s phone number (800-796-9696), and you can call with questions on the materials in your cart. WM will tag a contaminated cart twice. The third time they find contamination, they will take away your recycling cart.

You can get back your recycling cart after having a phone call with city staff, to learn which materials are allowed in your curbside cart.

This is an effort to help Battle Creek recycle right. The city has struggled with recycling contamination, causing some of our weekly recycling routes to be taken to the landfill rather than the recycling facility. Too much non-recyclable material in the recycling stream decreases the value of the materials. Be sure to put your clean and dry recyclables in the cart loose. Anything in a bag is considered contamination. Plastic bags are the No. 1 cause of contamination in the city’s recycling.

The City of Battle Creek is committed to recycling right and we need your help! If you have questions about what is accepted in your curbside recycling cart, visit battlecreekmi.gov/recycling or call Patty at the City of Battle Creek Environmental Services at (269) 966-3355 ext. 1878.

Waste Management red tag