Communities step up measures to provide water to residents amid GLWA boil water advisory

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Rochester — As repair work proceeds and the Great Lakes Water Authority's boil water advisory continues, officials in several communities are stepping up efforts to distribute water to residents.

A water main break on Aug. 13 impacted water delivery to 23 communities and several in Oakland and Macomb counties left some residents without any water pressure. More than 133,000 residents remain under a boil water advisory that is expected to continue while repairs are done.

Joe Leopold, left, and Nick Cabataio, Shelby Township, Parks and Recreation Department, distribute bottled water to residents hit by the Great Lakes Water advisory at Whispering Woods Park in Shelby Twp. on Monday, August 15, 2022.

Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said Friday his firefighters, with the help of other city volunteers and a Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) are continuing to pass out water.

More:Water limits urged as Great Lakes Water Authority tends to main break

“The GLWA asked for a non-outdoor use of water and we are working to get our residents to comply,” Cieslik said. “We have only had three complaints of people watering their lawns and when they were contacted they apologized, said they forgot or were unaware and have stopped doing it.

“We continue to distribute 450 cases of water a day to residents in need,” he said. “Our volunteers have been fantastic and a great help. We will all be relieved when the repairs are completed and water pressure is maintained. But we expect that is still a few days off.”

In its last update, GLWA said repair work  including removal of a section of the 120-inch transmission line  will continue throughout the weekend. GLWA said 48 feet of replacement pipe will be delivered Tuesday and concrete pads are being poured under existing pipe for stabilization.

Construction workers build an access road to a farm field in Burtchville Twp., behind three, 120-inch cement and steel couplers at the scene of the Great Lakes Water Authority's (GLWA) water-main break on Metcalf Rd., one mile west of the GLWA's Lake Huron Water Treatment Facility in Fort Gratiot, Sunday evening, August 14, 2022.

The completion of repair work is still estimated at Sept. 3, GLWA said.

Meanwhile, Shelby Township officials announced Thursday they are expanding hours of operations at its three emergency water distribution sites to support residents that cannot sanitize water by boiling.

Since Aug. 15, when seven communities in Oakland and Macomb counties were hit with water problems, communities have set up water distribution at fire halls, both bottled drinking water and also allowed residents to fill up containers to use to flush toilets during the emergency. Several communities continue ban on outdoor water use until water pressure is back to normal.

More:What to know about GLWA water main break

In Shelby Township, crews have distributed thousands of 1-gallon jugs and 24-pack cases of water to residents as the township is one of seven communities under a boil water advisory. While pressures have been stable to meet all essential water uses, Shelby Township instituted an outdoor water use ban on activities such as lawn irrigation to maintain those pressures.

Joe Leopold and Nick Cabataio, Shelby Township, Parks and Recreation Department, distribute bottled water to residents hit by the Great Lakes Water advisory at Whispering Woods Park in Shelby Twp. on Monday, August 15, 2022.

"This has been at best a tremendous headache for our residents, and we're working to make sure it doesn't pose any greater risks than temporary discomfort," Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said in a news release. "Since we received the emergency water from the state on Aug. 15, we've been getting that water to our residents daily."

More:Whitmer declares state of emergency for Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair counties after water main break

"While we've been blessed with enough water to meet demands since Aug. 16, we have heard that our residents wished the window to pick up water was larger, so we made a change to our weekend schedule to accommodate that, and we will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 20 and Aug. 21."

The township is working with volunteer community groups to help hand out the water during the expanded schedule.

"We have tremendous volunteers and neighbors throughout our township, and we're very fortunate they are willing to step up and help us during this emergency," Township Clerk Stanley Grot said. "Our employees have been doing a fantastic job working at our distribution centers since Monday, and these volunteers will help us provide more hours of service this weekend."

"We are working very closely with GLWA and the Macomb County Emergency Operations Center to minimize the inconvenience this situation has created," Shelby Township Public Works Director David G. Miller said. "With these partners and the endless efforts of many township employees, we will continue to provide adequate water for all essential needs of the township. We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of the residents as we continue through this unforeseen emergency."

In addition to the distribution centers, Shelby Township will distribute water to seniors enrolled in the Meals on Wheels program and SMART transportation services.

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