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Some communities still under boil water advisory as crews work to repair SE Michigan water main

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Great Lakes Water Authority
The Great Lakes Water Authority said Sunday that it had isolated a broken section of a 10-foot water main near Port Huron that led to more than 900,000 people being advised to boil their water on Saturday.

Update: Sunday, August 14, 2:34 p.m.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency Sunday for four counties affected by a broken Great Lakes Water Authority water main near Port Huron.

Several communities remain under a boil water advisory after water pressure dropped on Saturday as a result of the broken pipe.

“We are drawing on every resource we have and taking every action necessary to get impacted families the help they need,” Whitmer said. “On Saturday, I activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate our response efforts, and with today’s state of emergency declaration, we are ensuring that state resources will be available as long as the impacted communities need them."

The emergency declaration "has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area," the governor's office said in an emailed news release. "The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management, and Homeland Security Division ... to coordinate and maximize state efforts to assist."

Update: Sunday, August 14, 12:19 p.m.

Water flow and pressure have been restored to Southeast Michigan communities that lost them after a water main broke near Port Huron on Saturday, the Great Lakes Water Authority said in a Sunday statement.

"While it will not be at normal levels, there will be enough flow to use for sanitary purposes," the water authority said.

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Great Lakes Water Authority
Seven communities remain under a boil water advisory from the Great Lakes Water Authority, according to a Sunday news release from the agency.

The authority lifted a boil water advisory for several communities, saying the water pressure there did not fall below the 20 pounds-per-square-inch threshold for declaring a boil water advisory, but the recommendation remains in place for seven others, covering 133,000 people.

The areas the Great Lakes Water Authority still lists under a boil water advisory are: the Village of Almont, Bruce Township, Burtchville Township, Imlay City, City of Rochester, Shelby Township, and Washington Township, as well as one business in Greenwood and an industrial park in Romeo.

“GLWA understands the real-life impact that this water main break is having on the hundreds of thousands of people in the affected communities and we truly appreciate their patience and understanding as we work to implement the necessary repairs,” said Suzanne R. Coffey, the authority's Chief Executive Officer. “I am grateful for the GLWA team who has been working tirelessly to restore water pressure to all communities and working as quickly as possible to restore service.”

A 10-foot-wide water main — the largest in its regional system, the water authority said — broke Saturday morning, reducing water pressure and leading the agency to tell more than 900,000 people to boil their water before use.

The water authority said Sunday that its crews "have isolated the break and started the process of removing water from the site using four eight-inch pumps, which will prepare the area for the repairs to begin."

"Replacement pipe has been ordered and is currently on a truck from Texas to Michigan," the authority said. "Barring any unforeseen circumstances, GLWA expects the timeline for returning the pipeline to service to be two weeks — one week for the repairs and an additional week for water quality testing."

Update: Saturday, August 13, 4:19 p.m.

The Great Lakes Water Authority has lifted a boil water advisory for 11 Metro Detroit communities.

Communities for which the advisory has been lifted are: the City of Auburn Hills, Clinton Township, the City of Flint, Flint Township, the City of Lapeer, Orion Township, the City of Pontiac, the City of Rochester Hills, the City of Sterling Heights, the City of Troy, and the City of Utica.

The water authority said its review of water pressure data showed "it does not appear that water pressure in these communities fell below the 20 [pounds per square inch] threshold for declaring a Boil Water Advisory."

Communities that remain under the advisory are: the Village of Almont, Bruce Township, Burtchville Township, Chesterfield Township, City of Imlay City, Lenox Township, Macomb Township, Mayfield Township, Village of New Haven, City of Rochester, Shelby Township, and Washington Township, as well one business in Greenwood, one business in Imlay Township, and one industrial park in Romeo.

The water authority said its crews have identified the location of the break about a mile west of the Lake Huron Water Treatment Facility. They're working to isolate the area around the break so repairs can begin, the agency said.

"Once the leak is isolated, crews will begin to open emergency connections to other mains in the system to restore some flow to the impacted communities," said the water authority.

Update: Saturday, August 13, 2022, 3:03 p.m.

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Great Lakes Water Authority
A map from the Great Lakes Water Authority shows the communities that were under a boil water advisory on Saturday. The agency issued the advisory after its largest water main broke in Port Huron.

Flint residents do not need to boil their water, the city said in a news release Saturday afternoon.

Flint had initially been included in a list of 23 communities advised to boil their water after a Great Lakes Water Authority pipeline broke near Port Huron early Saturday.

That's because the break caused a drop in pressure in the city's usual GLWA connection, and that can lead to bacterial contamination in the water supply.

But Flint Public Works Director Mike Brown said staff were "able to shut down the primary GLWA pipeline before pressure dropped below 20 [pounds per square inch]. This means that residents do not need to boil water."

Flint public works staff immediately connected the city to the Cedar Street Reservoir, and made the transition to the Genesee County Drain Commission secondary water supply line, Brown said.

"The city’s water quality is unaffected by this change," he said.

More than 20 other Metro Detroit communities remain on the boil water advisory.

Original story: Saturday, August 13, 2022, 12:31 p.m.

More than 900,000 people in southeastern Michigan were advised to boil their drinking water Saturday after a break was reported in a critical pipe.

The Great Lakes Water Authority said the City of Detroit was not affected, but 23 communities near it were, including Flint, Sterling Heights, and Rochester Hills.

The full list of communities advised to boil their water is: the Village of Almont, City of Auburn Hills, Bruce Township, Burtchville Township, Chesterfield Township, Clinton Township, City of Imlay City, Lenox Township, Macomb Township, Mayfield Township, Village of New Haven, Orion Township, City of Pontiac, City of Rochester, City of Rochester Hills, City of Romeo, Shelby Township, City of Sterling Heights, City of Troy, City of Utica, and Washington Township.

Residents of those communities "should not drink the water without boiling it first," the water authority said. "Residents must bring all water to a boil for at least one minute and then let it cool before using. Boiled, bottled, or disinfected water should be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and preparing food until further notice."

“A loss of pressure can lead to bacterial contamination in the water system," the GLWA said. "Boiling water before using it will kill bacteria and other organisms that may be in the water."

The broken pipe in St. Clair County, called a water main, carries treated water from Lake Huron and is the largest in the system, the agency said.

“Once the leak is isolated, crews will begin to open emergency connections to other mains in the system to restore some flow to the impacted communities,” the agency said.

Corrected: August 14, 2022 at 11:09 AM EDT
The Great Lakes Water Authority said Saturday afternoon that it had added Romeo, Mich., to its list of communities under a boil-water advisory. The water authority later clarified that the advisory only applied to a Romeo industrial park.
Brett joined Michigan Radio in December 2021 as an editor.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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