Any way you lay it, 30,000 feet is a lot of pipe. In fact, it’s 5.7 miles–exactly the distance around the subdivision bounded by Packard, Washtenaw, Carpenter, and Golfside. Called Washtenaw Heights by its developers, it’s Pittsfield Township’s oldest residential neighborhood–and nobody’s touched its water pipes since they went in the ground back in 1960. “We’ve been getting a lot of water main breaks there lately,” says Mike Luptowski, Pittsfield’s utilities director. “I’ve been here six years, and it’s gone from half a dozen to twenty a year.”

Luptowski says he’s always had “a pipe dream” to replace the mains. “But after President Obama was elected, I realized there might be stimulus money available, so I put the afterburners on and assembled a team to get it shovel ready.” Shovel ready was just what the feds wanted to hear. In December, Pittsfield won a grant that will pay 40 percent of the project’s $7.8 million cost. The rest will be financed with twenty-year, 2.5 percent bonds. Luptowski says “the biggest pipe project in the state” will break ground no later than April 15 and be done by next spring.