When are boil water advisories issued?

Posted at 8:23 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 20:23:04-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The city of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is “making headway” tackling a little more than 75 recent water main breaks, according to Chief Operating Officer Sam Smalley.

One location under repair included West Outer Drive and Schoolcraft.

“I couldn’t make my coffee this morning,” resident Jesse Shaw said with a chuckle.

His water is temporarily shut off because of the repairs.

When the pipe is repaired and the water is turned back on, a boil water advisory likely won’t be issued. That’s because it’s a small pipe repair and the city says the water pressure did not fall low enough.

“The Safe Drinking Water Act requires a boil water alert to be issued when the pressure drops below 20 psi,” Smalley explained.

He said providing safe drinking water is the first priority.

Smalley explained that Detroit has the benefit: A redundant water system. That means water is fed from multiple directions at all times. It’s something he says most other metro Detroit communities don’t have.

So, smaller pipes that undergo repair like the one impacting Shaw typically don’t lose enough water pressure.

“Now, if there’s a larger break on a 36-, 42- or 48-inch water main, those large breaks have the potential of bringing the system pressure below 20 psi, and in those instances, we issue a boil water alert,” Smalley explained.

The city said, “For our smaller breaks and if water is off temporarily, we tell residents to flush for three to five minutes as a precaution before they use the water. The instructions are on our door notifications. They don't have to boil water."