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Several communities under boil water advisory, 2 districts closed after water main break

Water main break
Posted at 4:48 AM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 18:17:11-04

(WXYZ) — Several metro Detroit communities have issued a boil water advisory and one school district is closed after a massive water main break Sunday along 14 Mile in Farmington Hills.

The communities currently under a boil water advisory are: Novi, Walled Lake, a portion of Commerce Township (view the map below) and 36 houses in Farmington Hills (residents are reportedly being notified by officials going door-to-door).

 The Novi Consolidated School District and Walled Lake Consolidated School District are also closed Monday due to the water main break.

The boil water alerts issued by the cities are also impacting three Henry Ford Health System facilities. Bottled water and hand sanitizer have been made available at the sites. They are:

  • Henry Ford Medical Center-Columbus, 39450 W. 12 Mile Road
  • Henry Ford Medical Center-Commerce, 8391 Commerce Road
  • Henry Ford Medical Center-Novi, 40000 8 Mile Road

The facilities are fully operational and seeing most patients at their scheduled times. However, elective endoscopy procedures have been canceled and rescheduled at the Columbus Medical Center through Wednesday.

14 Mile Road east of Drake Road is expected to be closed through Thursday due to the water main break.

It sounded like a waterfall and looked like a geyser. A water main break shot up from the ground along 14 Mile in Farmington Hills, breaking through the sidewalk. The gushing water started just after 5:00 p.m. and continued until nearly 9:30 p.m.

“The amount of water is just unbelievable," said neighbor John Shinske. "The whole street is flooded.”

A neighborhood backs up to this part of 14 Mile. The four homes directly in the water's path were severely damaged. A river of water and debris poured from their backyards into the street, as pieces of one home floated away.

“The sheer force blasted most of the wall of the rear of this house off, entered the home and poured through the home," said Farmington Hills Fire Chief Jon Unruh.

Outside the damaged homes, thousands of homes across 8 Metro Detroit communities are now impacted. That includes Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills, Commerce Township, Novi, Walled Lake and Wixom.

According to the Great Lakes Water Authority, the regional pressure levels never dipped to the point that would require a regional boil advisory, however some communities have issued their own out of an abundance of caution.

Farmington Hills issued an updated statement Monday saying, "The City has experienced seven(7) water main breaks in our system as a result of the Great Lakes Water Authority main break yesterday. The Water Resources Commission is working to repair those. Customers in those areas may be experiencing low water pressure or discolored water. Boil Water advisories in those localized areas. WRC will advise as soon as information is available."

The residents, Farmington Hills says, are being notified by officials going door-to-door. It reportedly affects 36 households between 12 and 13 Mile and between Orchard Lake and Farmington roads.

“We just went and bought a lot of water, we’re still probably going to buy more tomorrow," said West Bloomfield resident Aleena Dabbish.

For these residents, it’s all too familiar. In 2017 near this exact same intersection, the same water main suffered a massive break. It put more than 250,000 people under a boil advisory that lasted days.

“I know that Great Lakes Water Authority has worked on improvements to the systems and hopefully those valves and things they renewed will be beneficial for this break,” Chief Unruh said.

But given that past experience, many residents aren’t expecting to use their water anytime soon. They worry this is only the beginning of a long week ahead.

“Oh yea, probably over a week, that’s a possibility. That's what happened a while back when they turned off the water for a few days,” Dabbish said. "Just gotta wait and hold on and buy a lot of water I guess.”

What to do if your community is under a boil water advisory:

"Water should be boiled for at least one minute and allowed to cool before consumption. Boiled, bottled or disinfected water should be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and preparing food until further notice."

The Great Lakes Water Authority issued the following statement Monday morning:

“Late Sunday evening, Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) Field Service Crews were able to partially isolate the primary water transmission main in the area of the break at 14 Mile and Drake Road, which stabilized pressure to the regional system. This morning, GLWA and contractor crews are on-site working to isolate the remaining sections of pipe to stop water flow from the break and allow excavation to begin starting repair activities. GLWA expects the repair to take three to five days, during which impacted communities will continue to have water flow, however, it may be at a lower level than normal. At no time during the event has water pressure in the regional system dropped to or below a level that would cause GLWA to issue a boil water advisory. Several communities have issued precautionary boil water advisories based on activity in their local systems. The only communities that have issued boil water advisories are: Commerce Township, Novi and Walled Lake. ”

  • Cheryl Porter, Chief Operating Officer-Water & Field Services, GLWA