Kalamazoo City
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Water System Basics

Groundwater is pumped from aquifers by means of wells at several separate wellfields in the City of Kalamazoo water system. At the wellfields, groundwater is pumped from individual wells and into water main pipes located underground. Then, booster pumps boost the water pressure, sending it out into the water distribution system.

The water distribution system is a large grid of water main pipes buried underground, usually running under the streets. Fire hydrants and water storage tanks are also part of this distribution system and serve important functions. Obviously, fire hydrants are used to extinguish fires, but they also serve to clean out sediments from water mains and to test flow capabilities.

Above ground water storage tanks serve as emergency water storage for power outages and fire fighting but also provide appropriate pressure in the water distribution system. Water services are attached to the water main and run into buildings and houses, carrying water from the water distribution system into your home or business.

Many of you have seen or know where your water meter is located. This water meter (usually located in the basement) is connected to the water service and records the amount of water that flows through the water service into your home or business.

Kalamazoo Water Facts

  • Second largest groundwater-based drinking water system in Michigan
  • 19 Wellfields/18 Water Pumping Stations (WPS's)
  • 101 Production Wells
  • 39 Water Facilities
  • 8 Pressure Service Districts
  • 8 Water Storage Facilities
  • ~803 Miles of Water Main
  • ~5599 Fire Hydrants
  • ~120 Square Mile Service District
  • >121,000 Population Served

Water Produced in 2008

  • Total: 6.8 billion gallons
  • Average Day: 18.7 million gallons
  • Maximum Day: 31 million gallons

Limited Treatment Feed

  • Chlorine: average 0.53 ppm (chlorine treatment began in 1941)
  • Fluoride: average 0.88 ppm (fluoride treatment began in 1951)
  • Polyphosphate: average 1.63 ppm (phosphate treatment began in 1956)
  • Air Stripping for VOC (volatile organic compounds) Removal at 2 WPSs (air stripping began in 1990)

Water Quality Sampling

Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance

  • Bacteriological (1,451 samples in 2008)
  • Non-Bacteriological, including VOCs, synthetic organic compounds, metals, partial chemicals, pH, phosphates, chlorine, TTHMs (by-products of chlorination), lead and copper and radiological (4,055 samples in 2008)

Non-Compliance/In-House System Monitoring, Special Projects, etc.

  • Bacteriological (1,168 samples in 2008)
  • Non-Bacteriological, including VOCs, metals, general chemistry, lead and copper, etc. (5,794 samples in 2008)

Total Samples in 2008: 12,468 (44% for Compliance)

Water Quality

Water Quality Report

The City of Kalamazoo is pleased to provide its customers with information about the quality of our drinking water. The water quality data in this report shows that the water we provide to our customers meets or is of higher quality than standards established by federal and state regulations.

The pdf Water Quality Report, 2016 (7.16 MB)  summarizes our efforts and commitment to provide safe drinking water.  

Drinking Water Compliance & Stewardship

Cross Connection Program
Source Management/ Hydrogeological Studies
Wellhead Protection Program
pdf  Emergency Response (6.45 MB)

Other Documents:

pdf  Water Quality Table 2004

Water Quality Video: 

Groundwater/Wellhead Protection - Regulations

City of Kalamazoo Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay

On May 21, 2007 a pdf  Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay  and pdf  Wellhead Protection Overlay Ordinance  was formally adopted by the City Commission for the city's Wellhead Protection Areas, as defined by the 1-Year and 10-Year Time-of-Travel Capture Zones.

  • A Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) is the surface or subsurface areas supplying water to wells or wellfields through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach such wellfields.
  • A Time-of-Travel Capture Zone is the area indicating the travel time for water to flow through an aquifer and reach a well or wellfield.
  • The City uses the 1-Year Time-of-Travel Zone and the 10-Year Time-of-Travel Zone in the subject zoning overlay.

The primary objectives of the Zoning Overlay are to:

  1. Prevent the establishment or creation of non-compatible land uses within the WHPAs that have a higher risk of contaminating groundwater resources used for drinking water and/or would prevent/limit the City's ability to obtain necessary MDEQ well permits to replace or add wells.
  2. Protect drinking water supplies from spills, leaks, and other releases into the groundwater caused by improper storage, handling, use, production, or discharge of Regulated Substances by the use of Performance Standards/Best Management Practices appropriate for higher groundwater risk land uses.
  3. Prevent or minimize public and private losses due to contamination of the public water supply by avoiding expenditure of public funds for costly pollution remediation projects and/or replacement of Public water Supply System assets.
  4. Minimize interruptions to businesses by only regulating specific land use activities within specific designated wellhead protection capture zones, as based upon determined potential risk to the Public Water Supply System.

Performance Standards for Groundwater Protection within Wellhead Protection Capture Zones and Stormwater Quality Management

On May 21, 2007 the City Commission formally adopted an pdf  Ordinance  for pdf  Performance Standards for Groundwater Protection . It was intended to be used in combination with the pdf  Performance Standards Map , the  pdf  Minimum Well Isolation Distance Standard , pdf  Spill Plan Template , pdf  Figure 3 , pdf  Figure 4 , and the City's site plan review process to help safeguard the drinking water sources and protect surface water quality from higher-risk land use activities.

The Performance Standards provide reasonable protective measures/best management practices (BMPs) for the prevention or minimization of releases of Regulated Substances that could adversely impact water quality. The Performance Standards include the following:

  • a groundwater contamination risk assessment based on allowed uses within the City's zoning districts and specific higher-risk land uses relative to groundwater quality;
  • general and land use specific site plan review standards;
  • stormwater quality management criteria;
  • criteria for non-conforming land uses; and
  • references to relevant environmental regulations.

Existing non-conforming uses pursuant to the Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay would be required to incorporate appropriate performance standards and/or prepare a Spill Contingency Plan (SCP) within two years of the formal adoption of the Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay by the City Commission, or within one year of the City notifying the site of its non-conforming status, whichever is sooner.

Like the Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay, the Performance Standards minimize interruptions and impact to businesses by only addressing specific higher-risk land use activities within specifically designated capture zones (as based upon risk potential), and potential impacts of stormwater runoff.

Visit http://www.protectyourwater.net/ for more information about the Wellhead Protection Program and other water resources protection issues.

Cross Connections

As a City of Kalamazoo drinking water supply customer, you can help ensure that the water you are drinking within your home and business remains safe by preventing any cross-connections with the City of Kalamazoo's water supply and/or ensuring that all backflow prevention devices are installed, inspected and properly maintained by licensed and certified plumbers as required by state and local plumbing codes.

Cross-connections are arrangements of piping or appurtenances through which a backflow of undesirable material could enter the potable (drinking) water system. The undesirable material may come from sources connected to your own home or facility's internal or external plumbing. A backsiphonage backflow can be created in an area where a sudden loss of pressure in the water system occurs due to a water main break, a fire department using large quantities of water or during hydrant flushing. Buildings near the break or fire hydrant will experience a lowering of the water pressure; this is the time a backsiphonage could occur. If any of these conditions with sudden losses of pressure occur in your area, you should thoroughly flush your lines after the low-pressure condition ceases before using the water. Flushing your taps will help to alleviate potential undesirable material along with iron particles that will be present after a main break or hydrant flushing.

We ask all our customers:

  • Help protect our water by preventing cross-connections from occurring by installing proper backflow devices within your homes and businesses.
  • Never submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs, sinks or process tanks.
  • Do not use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device. The chemicals used on your lawn are toxic and can be fatal if ingested.
  • Do buy and install inexpensive backflow prevention devises (hose bib vacuum breakers) for all threaded faucets around you home or business. They are available at hardware stores and home-improvement centers.
  • Never install sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, or boilers with chemical additives without proper backflow prevention devices.
  • Ensure that your softener drain line has an air gap between the drain line and the receiving drain.

Please notify us immediately at 337-8149, if you notice any unusual activity or persons around city water facilities, wells, tanks, and fire hydrants.

If you would like additional information about cross-connections, please call the Senior Environmental Services Supervisor at 337-8365.

iconBackflow Device Testers in the Kalamazoo Area
pdf  Backflow Test Blank Form  for City of Kalamazoo

Boil Water Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Water Contamination Emergencies

If your home is served by a public water system, and the water in the system is ever contaminated, you will be notified by the City of Kalamazoo or by the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department (KCHCS). In a water emergency, the water supplier may issue a Boil Water Advisory or a Boil Water Order. Advisories and Orders will be widely publicized in local radio and television broadcasts and newspapers.

pdf  Boil Water FAQs .

A Brief History of the Water Division

The City of Kalamazoo Water Division can trace its beginnings to 1869 with a hand-dug well located on South Burdick Street slightly north of Axtell Creek. Within two years, a new well needed to be dug. This well remained in occasional use until the early 1940's. Over time, new wells were dug, additional land was purchased for well fields, and storage tanks were constructed.

In 1941, chlorine, at the rate of 0.2 parts per million, was added as "a precaution against some possible contamination." In 1951, a fluoride compound was added for strengthening tooth enamel. In 1973, a water chemist joined the staff and organized the laboratory. The laboratory achieved accreditation the following year.

As recently as 1964 the Water service area for the Department of Public Utilities encompassed only the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township, and the Wastewater service area encompassed only the City of Kalamazoo. Over time, both service areas began to grow as it kept pace with the development of the metropolitan area. As of 2000, the water service area encompassed 10 municipalities, the City of Kalamazoo included.

The Water Division currently provides services to the City of Kalamazoo, a portion of the City of Portage, the Village of Richland, and all or part of seven townships in the county. In total, there are over 35,000 water accounts servicing approximately 114,000 customers. Those municipalities with service contracts with the City of Kalamazoo are:

  • City of Portage (an area between Kilgore Rd. and I-94)
  • Village of Richland
  • Comstock Township
  • Cooper Township
  • Kalamazoo Township
  • Oshtemo Township
  • Pavilion Township
  • Richland Township
  • Texas Township

Water operators are certified by the Michigan Department of Public Health, which also performs independent laboratory tests to assure that the water quality meets State standards. The Water System continues to expand and modify operational processes to meet the changing needs of our customers and regulatory agencies. The Public Utilities Department staff is committed to providing our customers with high quality and safe drinking water at affordable rates.

Organizational Structure

The Water Division is responsible for providing a safe, convenient, and dependable water supply to the public. This includes both the drilling and maintenance of wells and also a reliable storage and distribution system. The departments within the Water division are Administration, Water Supply, Distribution System, Commercial Office, Inventory Stores, Building Services, and Accounting.

Hydrant Flushing

The Spring Hydrant Flushing Program will begin on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Most flushing will take place at night between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. with some additional day flushing between 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Public Services Department personnel will flush the hydrants and mains to remove accumulated sediments. While flushing doesn’t affect the safety of the water supply, tap water may appear cloudy or discolored immediately after flushing. The City is advising residents to run their cold water in their bathtub or utility sink until it runs clear again, and is discouraging them from using their washing machines the day of flushing and for 24 hours after, since clothing could become discolored.

Periodic flushing is necessary to get rid of deposits that form inside the water mains. Over time, sediment builds up on the inside of water distribution pipes, narrowing the path that water can flow through to individual homes and businesses. Flushing stirs up water in the mains and forces water and sediments out. By widening the path that water can flow through the mains, the flushing program will improve water flow, helping the City to better meet the needs of Public Safety fire personnel. Another goal of the flushing program is to make sure that all water supply systems work, including pumps, storage tanks, mains, valves, and hydrants.

If you have scheduled construction or maintenance projects during this time, please contact Robert McClenney at 337-8148 so that necessary precautions can be taken to avoid conflicts or problems.

Please check the pdf map (554 KB)  of the flushing area for dates.

Billing and Rates for Water Division

Office Hours: M - F 8:30am - 4:30pm
Located at 241 W South St. (City Hall)

Kalamazoo's Water Department Customer Service Office prides itself on customer satisfaction. The Customer Service Office is open daily from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday.

Residential water bills are mailed on a quarterly basis while business customers are billed monthly. All water bills are due within 21 days. Rates can be found in the pdf Billing Rates . If you have questions regarding your bill, please call us at 269-337-8149.

Pay My Bill Online.

Permits/Rates and Regulations for Water Hookup

Below is a list of City forms for Water Service currently available through the web or by pickup. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to download and print these forms.

Application for New Water Connection Service

Purpose/Uses of Application: New City Water Service for dwellings previously using well water, new construction, etc.
Application Fee or Deposit: An advance deposit of $350.00 is required for all new service connections. If the water is to be left on, an additional refundable customer security deposit may be required.
Pick-Up Location: pdf  Inside the City - New Water Service Application , pdf  Outside the City - New Water Service Application , or at the Kalamazoo Water Department located at 241 W South St.
Be Sure to Bring: Valid Driver's License or MI State I.D. Card. Note: If the dwelling resides outside the City of Kalamazoo city limits, a permit is required from your city or township.
Any Questions? 269-337-8149

Application for Transfer of Water Service

Purpose/Uses of Application: New Water Service for dwellings already hooked up to City water.
Application Fee or Deposit: A refundable customer security deposit may be required. The minimum amount is $40 for inside the City residents and $60 for outside the City residents.
Pick-Up Location: pdf Transfer of Water Service Application , or at the Kalamazoo Water Department located at 241 W South St.
Be Sure to Bring: Valid Driver's License or MI State I.D. Card.
Any Questions? 269-337-8149

Rates and Regulations

pdf  Sanitary Sewer Connection  has information on Sanitary Sewer Connections, Water Service Connections, and Water Service Extensions.

Water Divisions

 The Water Division is responsible for providing inter-municipal water supply to homes, businesses, and industries. This division connects and renews water service, monitors water consumption, repairs and installs water mains, and repairs and installs fire hydrants. This division also connects wastewater disposal service; installs, maintains, and replaces sewer mains; maintains sewer leads; and cleans and inspects sewers.

Water Quality is also an important concern to the City of Kalamazoo. Some substances found in groundwater may be beneficial to your health such as fluoride, calcium, and iron. The cities and villages in Kalamazoo County pump and distribute over 8.5 billion gallons of water every year. Each July a water quality brochure is mailed to our citizens explaining the water quality in our area. Michigan also celebrates Water Quality Awareness week in May each year.

For more information about our ongoing commitment to replace all lead water service lines within the Kalamazoo Public Water Supply System, click here.

Customer Service-- Water/Sewer Billing, Payments, Shut-offs for Non-Payment, Transfer of Service, Installation of New Service (also handles Treasury and Assessing calls)

         Office Hours: M - F 8:00am - 4:30pm    Located at 241 W South St (City Hall)    Ph: 269-337-8149

Customer Billing & Rates | FAQ's | Online Payment | Water Hookup |

Water Supply-- System Operations, Water Quality, Water Pressure from Water Main

         Office Hours: M - F 7:00am - 3:30pm    Located at 1415 N Harrison    Ph: 269-337-8756

Water Quality |

Field Services-- Maintenance of Water Mains (Bi-Annual Flushing and Repairs), Service Connections, Hydrants, and Water Meters  (Please call this office directly for reporting water main breaks, lack of water do to cold/frozen pipes, busted/leaking water meter, leaking fire hydrant, or water running out of a vacant house.  **After-Hours Emergencies, please call 269-337-8148.)

          Office Hours: M - F 7:00am - 3:30pm    Located at 415 Stockbridge    Ph: 269-337-8729

Flushing Schedule |Boil Water Info |

Water (Environmental) Basics--  Protect Your Water, Groundwater & Wellhead Protection, Water Testing Information

Office Hours: M - F 7:00am - 3:30pm    Located at 1415 N Harrison    Ph: 269-337-8658

Lead and Copper Sampling/Testing Hotline: 269-337-8550

Basics | Cross ConnectionsGroundwater/Wellhead | History | Protect Your Water |

Not finding the phone number you want?  Please email us at cokpublicservices@kalamazoocity.org so we can connect you to the appropriate area.