Rusty water investigated in Detroit, Grosse Pointe Woods

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Officials on Wednesday are investigating reports of rusty water in Detroit and Grosse Pointe Woods.

Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department said it's looking into the cause of the rusty water in multiple District 4 neighborhoods including Cornerstone Village, East English Village and Morningside. 

The reports come days after major flooding from a weekend storm impacted thousands of homes, particularly on Detroit's east side. Overnight Friday and into early Saturday morning the city was hit with more than 6 inches of rainfall over a five-hour span. 

The rust color, water officials said, is due to a disruption in the water pipes serving the neighborhoods, causing sediment to enter the taps. 

Terry Dudley plugs in one of four fans he bought to try to dry the basement home on Harvard Street on the east side of Detroit, Monday. The basement was flooded over the weekend.

The water department is advising customers in the impacted areas to report rust-colored water to DWSD if it continues for at least two minutes after the tap is turned on. 

If the water remains brown, DWSD advises residents to avoid using it for drinking or washing clothes "out of an abundance of caution," and noted that boiling the water will not have an impact in this case. 

"Currently, there are no other reports of brown, rusty water outside of these three neighborhoods, Detroit’s drinking water testing continues to meet or exceed the Safe Drinking Water Act, and there are no other indications that make it necessary to issue a boil water advisory at this time," the department said in a Wednesday statement. 

DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority are working to pinpoint the cause and resolve it as quickly as possible, officials said. 

"GLWA and DWSD are working to locate the cause of the discolored water, and that investigation is ongoing and has included hydrant flushing in the city of Detroit, which can temporarily cause discoloration of the water," Cheryl Porter, the authority's COO of Water and Field Services, said in a statement.

"When rusty-brown, orange or light-yellow water is experienced it is not normally a health concern but one of aesthetic quality. Operating valves, hydrant flushing, routine maintenance and construction work are some of the causes for discolored water."

The issue also has been reported to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. 

Those experiencing the issue should report it to DWSD by calling (313) 267-8000.

The Great Lakes Water Authority also is investigating reports of reddish-brown tap water in some Grosse Pointe Woods neighborhoods, officials announced Wednesday.

"It is likely the discoloration is due to area water pipes being disrupted which causes sediment to flow into customer taps," officials wrote in an alert posted on Nixle.com. "Residents who have brown water coming from their taps are advised to let it run for at least two minutes to see if it clears. Brown water should not be used for drinking or washing clothes and dishes until the cause is determined."

Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed.