Detroit prepares for increase in water main breaks

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department is preparing for an increase in water main breaks with freezing winter temperatures, officials said Thursday.

“Based on weather forecasts, we don’t anticipate frigid temperatures for weeks on end similar to the past two winters; however, we expect the temperature will drop several times as it has done the past several days,” said Gary Brown, water department director, in a statement Thursday. “We have added capacity to address potential increases in water main breaks.”

Water mains are more susceptible to cracks and breaks when the frost line dips farther below ground, according to the water department. It’s even more of a threat for the city’s aging pipes.

Brown said the department has significantly improved its water-main repair process, resulting in a decrease in the time it takes to make repairs.

A worker will verify water main breaks and triage the situation based on the break’s severity, according to the department. The worker will divert or shut off the line and block streets if needed. Residents and businesses in the area will be notified if water service will be restricted during a repair.

The department is in the process of planning infrastructure upgrades to fix the aging pipes and sewers throughout the city. The upgrades will be funded through an annual Great Lakes Water Authority lease payment of $50 million to the city of Detroit that begins this year.

Residents can report water main breaks by calling a 24-hour hotline at (313) 267-7401.

(313) 222-2311