GLWA: More pipe being manufactured, water authority obtained all 120-inch pipe available in U.S.

·4 min read
Crews are working to repair a Great Lakes Water Authority main break. A boil water advisory remains in place for customers.
Crews are working to repair a Great Lakes Water Authority main break. A boil water advisory remains in place for customers.

Authorities on Tuesday added another week to the two-week timeline expected to bring service fully back after a major water main break last weekend prompted a boil water advisory for residents in Burtchville Township.

And that means residents and businesses in Burchville may have to continue to boil water prior to its consumption until early September.

As the boil order headed into its fourth day, crews for the Great Lakes Water Authority continued to work to address the 120-inch water transmission main that broke early Saturday just north of the Port Huron area while awaiting additional replacement pipe for the fix.

Burtchville Township is the only customer for GLWA in the county. The township, a DTE site in Greenwood, and a handful of communities in three other counties remain under the boil order.

Early Tuesday, Justin Westmiller, St. Clair County’s emergency management director, said that local authorities were standing by to see what decision would be reached by the water authority, as well as the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy — continuing to coordinate bottled and packaged water deliveries and other resources to Burtchville.

Removal of the water at the break site, located on a farm in northern St. Clair County, was complete on Sunday, and an engineers' inspection of the pipe was completed Monday. The initial replacement pipe from Textas arrived onsite on Sunday, as well.

Crews continued to work Tuesday to address a fix for the Great Lakes Water Authority water main break north of Port Huron. After the break Saturday, a boil water notice was put in place for residents in Burtchville Township, the only community that's a GLWA customer in the county.
Crews continued to work Tuesday to address a fix for the Great Lakes Water Authority water main break north of Port Huron. After the break Saturday, a boil water notice was put in place for residents in Burtchville Township, the only community that's a GLWA customer in the county.

However, in an emailed statement to the Times Herald Tuesday afternoon, GLWA CEO Suzanne Coffey said, "​The inspection found more damage to the pipe than initially thought, which will require the replacement of additional lengths of the water main. Out of an abundance of caution, while the inspection was occurring, GLWA ordered an additional 48 feet of replacement pipe.

"This pipe is in the process of being manufactured because GLWA had previously obtained all the 120-inch pipe available in the United States after the water main broke on Saturday."

The cause of the water main break also remained under investigation.

During a question-and-answer session with the media, Coffey later said the broken pipe itself was installed around 1973. That type of main infrastructure, she said, is typically expected to last 50 to 100 years.

Burtchville Township was among the 23 communities originally affected by Saturday's water main break but remained among the seven as of Tuesday across four counties to remain under a boil water order.
Burtchville Township was among the 23 communities originally affected by Saturday's water main break but remained among the seven as of Tuesday across four counties to remain under a boil water order.

New pipe is expected to arrive next Tuesday, water authority CEO says

Both St. Clair County Board Chairman Jeff Bohm and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued emergency declarations last weekend as a result of the main break — the state's following a day later on Sunday and unlocking resources for all four counties impacted, also including Lapeer, Oakland, and Macomb.

Regional water authorities have said they expected that the boil water advisory would remain in place until results from water samplings verified it was safe to drink.

Previously, the water authority reported returning the pipeline to service will likely take until Aug. 27, including one week for repairs and another for water quality testing.

“The new pipe is expected to be delivered on-site on Tuesday a week from today, Aug. 23," Coffey said Tuesday. "This means that we will need to add an additional week to the repair timeline and a week to the boil water advisories.

"I know that adding this week creates (a) further burden on the residents and the businesses of the seven impacted communities, but I want you to know we’re doing everything we can, everything in our capabilities to expedite this repair and return the system to normal levels of service.”

St. Clair County Commissioner Jorja Baldwin, whose district includes Burtcvhille, said she and other officials were on site of the repair area early Tuesday, learning from engineer officials the status.

"It's just going to take time. It's easy when you're talking about an 8-inch pipe, but (not) a 10-foot pipe. … I think that's part of the delay," Baldwin said. "They're just trying to make sure they fix it right the first time."

Burtchville Township's fire department is offering water bottles to residents during the prolonged boil advisory after both the state and county declared an emergency over the weekend.
Burtchville Township's fire department is offering water bottles to residents during the prolonged boil advisory after both the state and county declared an emergency over the weekend.

So, what do residents do until the advisory is lifted?

While the boil advisory remains in place, Burtchville residents can pick up bottled or packaged water at the township’s fire department, 4000 Burtch Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

According to state and local authorities, affected residents are advised to boil water for at least one minute before letting it cool for consumption. Boiled, bottled, or disinfected water can be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, or repairing food until further notice.

GLWA also advised residents to hold off watering their lawns.

Local health officials advised that the water was safe to shower or bathe in, but that pets or animals should also not consume the water unless boiled.

The boil water advisory was originally spurred by a lack of water pressure associated with the water main break early Saturday, and the loss of water pressure, authorities said, can lead to bacterial contamination in the water system.

Water pressure has reportedly returned to most impacted communities.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or jssmith@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith. 

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: No timeline yet set for end to Burtchvile Township boil water advisory