Makeshift system offers Detroit water hookup

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DETROIT (AP) — A makeshift system of plastic pipe, garden hoses, duct tape and towels is providing water service to a downtown Detroit coffeehouse and an adjoining jewelry store as city repairs to the water system are on hold.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department hooked up the system to a fire hydrant several months ago following a water main problem, but two area buildings are too unstable for immediate repairs, the Detroit Free Press reported ( ).

Water and Sewerage Department spokesman Greg Eno said it will cost about $100,000 to have the buildings in the alley secured with netting and scaffolding before repairs take place. In a statement Thursday, the city said the money has been placed into escrow by the owner of one of the unstable buildings and work is taking place to strip loose brick from the building to make it safe for crews to repair the water main.

The temporary water hookup has been in use since July. It's is another example of creative fixes to daily problems in bankrupt Detroit, where tires are used to plug missing covers from manholes and firefighters use a can filled with screws that's knocked over by paper from a fax machine to alert themselves to emergencies.

Falling bricks from the building near the water main prompted the city to file a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the building's owner. Work to the building is expected to take about two weeks, and once the site is safe, the city restore water service, Melvin "Butch" Hollowell, the city's chief attorney, said in a statement.

The makeshift water system is the only way that Chris Jaszczak, 66, owner of 1515 Broadway, is able to serve coffee to his customers. All water served is boiled first, and customers at the coffeehouse a few blocks from the home of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park aren't offered tap water.

Crews need to dig to the water main to fix a leak detected at a neighboring business, the newspaper reported, but the worry is that vibration from heavy equipment will jar loose bricks and other debris on the two buildings. Jaszczak said pieces of one of the buildings regularly fall.

Dan Martinez, co-operator of the coffeehouse, advised a Free Press reporter to wear a helmet when walking in the alley.

"I don't even walk back there," he said.


Information from: Detroit Free Press,

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