Boil water advisory issued for Belle Isle

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — There is a boil water advisory in effect on Belle Isle after low water pressure and low chlorine levels were detected Tuesday, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Bacteria levels came out negative which means that’s OK, but the chlorine levels are still low,” said Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation for the DNR. “The suspicion is because the water pressure is low, that may affect the chlorine levels.”

The issue was detected around 12 p.m. Tuesday after city officials tested water near the island’s Coast Guard outpost, which recently had been experiencing varying levels of water pressure, Olson said. Belle Isle is hooked up to the city’s water and sewerage system.

Further testing showed no harmful bacteria in the water but officials determined the water “may not be potable” due to the low pressure and low chlorine, Olson said. The advisory was issued “as a precautionary measure.”

Several agencies including the city, the DNR and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are working to pinpoint the cause of the low water pressure, Olson said.

“We’re just trying to sort it all out and I don’t want to speculate on what may or may not be the case,” he said. “Luckily the bacteria level in the water is not a problem, so that’s a good thing.”

Island facilities have been notified of the risk and are taking steps to protect the public, in-part by directing visitors and park employees away from drinking fountains, Olson said.

“We know it’s frustrating for them,” he said. “It’s something we’ll aggressively seek to get it sorted out.”

Meanwhile, Olson said aquatic life at the island’s aquarium are protected in their controlled tank environments.

“(Employees) actually have to get rid of the chlorine, the chlorine hurts the fish, so this will not affect them,” Olson said. “But they’ll have to be mindful to alert the public not to drink the water out of the fountains.”

It remained unclear Wednesday afternoon how long the boil water advisory could last, he said.

“We’re just taking it a step at a time but we want to take precautions and err on the side of being safe rather than rushing something,” he said. “But we’re trying to aggressively solve the problem and get back to normal operations as fast as we can.”

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