Massive June sewer backups partially caused by power cable cut; allegedly GLWA didn’t know about it

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 26, 2021

DETROIT (WXYZ) — There is new information that an underground power cable was cut by a construction crew on June 22. That cable is one of two that run into the Freud pump station and is part of the Great Lakes Water Authority. The serious new allegation is that GLWA was not aware of it until it was too late.

Heavy rain on June 25 and 26 caused massive sewer backups on the east side of Detroit and through the Grosse Pointes, resulting in a class-action lawsuit being filed.

DTE Energy tells 7 Action News the cable was accidentally cut by a third-party contractor and that 400 feet of underground cable was not fixed until June 30.

The first to call for an independent investigation is Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller who tells 7 Action News today, “astounding might be one way to categorize it. But yes, it’s rather incredible that happened.”

Patricia Jones lives on the east side of Detroit and says she had several feet of water that backed up into her basement. Of these new allegations, she tells 7 Action News, “I think they need to start at the top work their way down have some people in there that know what they’re doing."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the report he saw from GLWA was the power was down for an hour because of a short inside. He also said as a former prosecutor he wants to see the full report.

An outside independent investigation is close to starting. Outside contractors were interviewed Monday on a Zoom by the GLWA board. The vote on a contractor could happen Wednesday.

GLWA officials have said in the past the pumps are too large to run off of generators.

7 Action News wanted to interview someone today from GLWA but that didn’t happen.

Late this afternoon we were given this statement from GLWA CEO Sue McCormick:

"The timeline of the occurrence of this power outage is a part of the GLWA’s internal after-action investigation, as well as the GLWA Board’s independent investigation.

In its initial response following the event, GLWA indicated that it was first aware of the outage on June 25 at 6:52 a.m. We expect that the exact time of GLWA’s awareness of the outage, how it happened and by whom GLWA became aware will be addressed in GLWA’s after-action investigation, as well as in the independent investigation of GLWA’s board of directors. Further, GLWA has received differing anecdotal reports as to the cause of the outage and the employ of the repair crew and has requested official, written clarification on this matter. This too will be investigated.

In our continued effort to offer transparency to southeast Michigan and to educate the community on our operations, GLWA is in the process of planning a media tour at one of its pump stations.”