Oakland County Expects to Extend Boil Water Advisory

A broken water pipe in one Michigan county has put 300,000 people under a boil water requirement. The pipe needed to fix the water line break arrived on Wednesday, but the county expects to extend its boil water requirement for a few more days.

A 48″ water transmission main along the city boundaries broke on Monday evening. Several parts of the surrounding system lost water pressure because of the leak. The cause of the break is still unknown. The CEO of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), Sue McCormick, said the pipe was relatively new and had no history of issues.

“Based on the information we have, there have been no issues with this pipe before, no breaks, no leaks,” said Amanda Abukhader, a spokeswoman for the GLWA. “We weren’t anticipating a break in this area.”

The advisory was issued for:

  • Commerce Township
  • Bloomfield Township
  • Novi Township
  • Farmington Hills
  • Orchard Lake Village
  • Keego Harbor
  • Walled Lake
  • Oakland Township
  • Wixom
  • West Bloomfield Township
  • Rochester Hills

The GLWA says it will launch a full investigation into what happened after the repairs are complete.

The water main break forced many schools to close. Several hospitals were forced to rely on back-up water supplies. Some canceled certain procedures until after the boil advisory has been lifted.

Repairs are already underway. Workers have excavated and began installing the new pipe. Most schools and hospital clinics have reopened, and several thousand Farmington Hills residents have had their water pressure restored.

The break occurred in an area of the water system with little redundancies, which means there are limited connections and back-up systems that can re-route the water flow. McCormick says this caused the break to be one of the biggest in the system’s history.

Crews are working around the clock to resolve the problem. Once the repairs have been made, the water must be tested for a full two days. While workers have made progress on the repairs, they discovered another leak during pressure testing.

Although the new leak has been repaired, the water quality testing will need to start again.

“One, we want to make sure that the new pipe can withstand the pressures within the system,” said GLWA COO Cheryl Porter. “And the next will be water quality testing, which typically takes about 48 hours.”

Porter says the main goal is to restore services to residents who are not getting any water at all. As of yesterday, that number stood at 51,000 people. By Wednesday, the number had fallen to 35,604.

Several communities have been relying on backup water supplies, which are still under the boiling water requirement. The newly-discovered leaks and delayed water testing means that affected residents will need to rely on boiled or bottled water for several more days.

“The overall timeline for the lifting of the boil water advisory for the GLWA system has shifted,” said GLWA in a press release. “The revised timeline is dependent on pressure and water quality testing that will begin today and continue into the weekend.”

The water utility apologized for the inconvenience and said it will continue providing updates as they become available.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.