The Department of Public Works (DPW) operates from facilities located at 126 Fairlane Street near the M-89/US 131 interchange. The primary responsibility of the Public Works Department is maintaining the City infrastructure; this includes the: water system, wastewater collection system, storm water collection system, street system, sidewalks, parks and downtown street lighting.
Other responsibilities include yard debris disposal, provision and care of City street trees and flowers, and maintenance of City buildings and equipment. We assist other City departments, civic groups, merchants, business owners and residents. We also provide mutual aid to neighboring units of governments.
Public Works Department
- Robert Niewenhuis, Superintendent
- Cheryl Pickett, Administrative Assistant
- Wade Keyzer, Water Operator/Laborer
- Aaron Bird, Equipment Operator/Laborer
- Aaron Shannon, Equipment Operator/Laborer
- Bill Hileski, Part-Time Light Equipment Operator
- Donald Reeves, Equipment Operator/Laborer
- Jaxon Ford, Part-Time Light Equipment Operator
- Rodd Leonard, Equipment Operator/Laborer
Water Quality Reports
2016 State Water Fluoridation Quality Award
2018 Wellhead Protection Award
The Plainwell water system consists of a 750,000-gallon storage tower, three wells and about 25 miles of water mains. It serves the needs of over 1500 residential, commercial and industrial customers. We are blessed with good quality water from the wells. Chlorine and fluoride are added prior to distribution to ensure and enhance public health.
The average pressure of delivered water is 59-63 pounds. Delivery of water at this pressure enhances the performance of equipment that uses water, from toilets, showers and dishwashers to irrigation systems and fire suppression equipment.
DPW performs monitoring, testing and reporting on water quality to comply with state and federal regulations. Early each year, the department provides a water quality report that answers many questions relating to the water supply, including a summary of the findings of laboratory tests for the preceding year. Copies are available through City Hall or Public Works.
The “hardness” of water supplied by the City averages about 297 or 16.1 grains. This is the number that residents or plumbing professional need to program a water softener. To prevent dirty water from being siphoned back into your water supply, residents or plumbers must provide an air gap between the end of the water softener’s discharge hose and the top of the drain or the overflow level of the sink into which it empties. Please call the DPW if assistance is needed providing the air gap.
DPW operates and maintains wells, pumping and chemical treatment equipment and the City’s elevated storage tower. They are responsible for the maintenance of water mains and water services from the main to the water service shutoff located between the sidewalk and the curb. Property owners are responsible for the water service from the shutoff to their building. If a water leak occurs on the property owner’s side of the water service shutoff call 685-9363 to have the water turned off for repairs. When water is turned off at the request of a customer during normal business hours, there is no charge. When water is turned off at the request of a customer after normal business hours, a turn-off charge will be levied that is determined by resolution of the City Council.
The Department provides and reads water meters for each water customer. Customers are required to have a working shutoff valve both before and after the water meter so meters can be maintained or changed. If you are upgrading your plumbing and you or your plumber need help configuring valves and piping at the water meter, please call the Department of Public Works at 685-9363.
To avoid sanitary sewer charges, you may purchase a separate meter for your irrigation system. Call City Hall at 685-6821 to discuss this option. You must always install and maintain a backflow prevention device between the water meter and irrigation plumbing. The device must have test ports or it must be replaced each time that you are required to have your backflow preventer tested and recertified (usually every three years).
You may, if you wish, purchase a separate meter for your outside spigots. Call City Hall at 685-6821 to discuss this option. You must always install and maintain a backflow prevention device between the water meter and irrigation plumbing. The device must have test ports or it must be replaced each time that you are required to have your backflow preventer tested and recertified (usually every three years).
Streets, Major and Local
Plainwell has four street classifications: Major Arterials, Minor Arterials, Major Streets and Local Streets. The state has maintenance responsibilities for the area’s Major Arterial, M-89. The county is responsible for portions of Main Street, Starr Road and 12th Street. The Public Works Department is responsible for the remaining streets within the City limits, the Major and Local streets.
Major Streets collect traffic from Local Streets and bring it to the surrounding arterial street system. Speed limits are usually 25-35 miles per hour and on-street parking may be permitted. The majority of Major Streets have curb and gutter. Prince Street, West Bridge Street, Jersey Street, Church Street, West Hill Street, Sherwood Avenue, Acorn Street, Industrial Parkway, Lincoln Parkway and Gray Street function as Major Streets. Major Streets constitute over 7 miles of our city streets.
The remaining 12.5 miles of primarily residential streets are classified as Local Streets.
The DPW is responsible for maintenance and repair of City streets and parking lots. This work consists of paving projects, pavement maintenance activities, maintaining pavement markings and traffic and street signs, trimming and removing trees within the street right-of way and maintenance of gravel shoulders and grassy verges, We also schedule inspection of and perform or contract for maintenance on City bridges. In winter the DPW performs seasonal maintenance such as plowing snow, spreading sand/salt and removing large snow piles from parking lots and intersections. We work with the state and county road commissions to address joint concerns such as the heavy traffic flows and maintenance issues on the arterials.
Storm sewers collect and channel storm water run-off from City streets to retention areas, ditches, creeks and to the Kalamazoo River. The DPW crew cleans and maintains catch basins, storm sewers, leaching catch basins and retention areas. It is a violation of State law to pour anything into a storm manhole or storm drain. Storm water is not treated and anything poured into these structures flows to the Kalamazoo River. If you see this happening, please call Public Safety (685-9858) immediately.
DPW inspects, rates and selectively replaces sections of sidewalk that fall outside State defined safety standards. We also trim trees and bushes adjacent to the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic. Some sidewalks may be wedged and holes filled with asphalt to provide a safe surface for pedestrian traffic. Pedestrian paths and walkways throughout the City include a river walk that connects Hicks, Pell and Sherwood Parks along the banks of the mill race and Kalamazoo River. In recent years, barrier-free ramps were provided at all major street crossings. With each addition, we progress toward our goal of making Plainwell a completely walkable community.
Snow is plowed from sidewalks on a designated school route throughout the winter. Residents and businesses are responsible for clearing all other sidewalks.
Trees on City Right-Of-Way are City property and will be maintained by the City of Plainwell Department of Public Works. Please contact Public Works at 685-9363 with City tree related concerns.
Sanitary Sewer Collection System
There are over 15 miles of sanitary sewer in service at this time within the City, providing service to customers on most streets. Sanitary sewer mains usually lie under City streets with manholes to provide access for cleaning and inspection. DPW is responsible for maintaining sewer mains, however, property owners are responsible for maintaining sewer laterals from their building to the sewer main including that section of sewer lateral that lies beneath the roadway. If sinks, toilets and other drains in your home appear to be partially or completely blocked, please call Public Works (685-9363) at any time. We will check the sanitary sewer main servicing your home and advise you of what we find. If the City’s sewer main is blocked, we will clear the blockage to restore proper service. If the problem is in your lateral or household plumbing, the responsibility to alleviate the problem lies with the property owner.
DPW maintains the buildings and grounds of all City parks.
DPW and the Parks and Trees Commission, with the help of other volunteers, builds beds, plants flowers and shrubs and maintains gardens throughout the City. Please call City Hall to volunteer or contribute to the Flower Fund.
Buildings & Grounds
DPW is responsible for maintenance of City buildings and grounds, including City Hall, DPW offices and barns, the Department of Public Safety building, other City owned buildings and all City parking lots. Basic maintenance is performed in-house with major repairs awarded to qualified contractors through a bidding process. DPW is responsible for mowing city-owned out-lots.
The DPW crew participates in the background of many of the special events held in the City each year. We cooperate with civic groups, providing practical support for their projects. This may include detour routes, trash receptacles, electrical hookups, water hookups and placement of advertising. DPW also maintains City banners and American flags downtown.
The DPW yard is a collection point for the brush and yard waste generated by City activities and by residents. The City contracts to have collected brush ground and removed. DPW also composts yard waste until it can be recycled. The DPW picks up yard waste on all city streets, starting on the first Monday of every month. If the first Monday is a holiday, pick up starts on Tuesday. Yard waste includes brush, bagged leaves and grass. Other than during loose leaf collection during October and November please do not rake or throw yard waste into the street. Such debris makes sweeping streets difficult and may block curb inlets causing storm water to back up into yards and flood streets For more information, please see our Yard Waste page.
Electric Generation and Distribution
Operated by Consumers Power Company
Natural Gas Distribution
Operated by Michigan Gas Utilities
Cable, Broadband Internet, Phone Service
Operated by Charter Cable
Frontier Communications Corporations
Telephone and Broadband Internet
Operated by AT&T