LAPEER COUNTY — The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), operator of the 120- inch water transmission pipe that broke one week ago this weekend, is asking all 133,000 customers in a four-county area served by the authority to curtail or minimize their outdoor water usage until repairs are made to the system.
Lapeer County, as well as Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties, remain under a State of Emergency issued last Sunday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer which has marshalled resources from State of Michigan departments to assist in the water emergency that has impacted 23 communities in the GLWA service area impacted by the water main break.
Almont and Imlay City remain under a precautionary Boil Water Advisory until Sept. 3 when GLWA hopes to have the break fixed, the pipe pressure tested and operational again before the advisory is lifted.
Local officials along with their partners at the State and GLWA are working towards the possibility of lifting the boil water advisory sooner than estimated. There is no official timeframe for the lifting of the advisory, but when and if it happens, Lapeer County Emergency Management in conjunction with local and state officials and GLWA will announce it.
Last week, water was distributed to Almont and Imlay City residents via a series of distribution days — including at the Eastern Michigan State Fairgrounds in Imlay City where tank trucks from the GLWA were brought to fill one-gallon jugs of water for city residents. In Almont, village residents can receive bottled water on Saturday (Aug. 20) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the village office on N. Main Street.
Through coordination with the state’s emergency management office, Lapeer County Emergency Management has set up a dedicated, daily, delivery of 18 pallets from Ice Mountain to go directly to Imlay City Community Schools beginning Monday. From there, the Almont Dept. of Public Works will pick up and deliver nine pallets of water to Almont Community Schools. Lapeer County Emergency Management is in contact with the superintendents of both school districts to ensure the needs of the students and staff are met during the water emergency as both schools are scheduled to open next week.
In other developments, the Governor’s Office is working directly with the GLWA and the City of Imlay City in an effort to find a way to supply water to Vlasic pickles so the company can begin production again, which has been suspended since the water main break.
Lapeer County Emergency Management is in daily contact with Lapeer City Manager Daley Kerbyson and other city officials where officials are continuing to develop plans to bring water into the city should the need arise. The state is also being kept informed of what the potential needs in Lapeer would be if that situation arises. The goal is to have a plan in place and ready to go in a moment’s notice.
At this time the water supply in Lapeer City continues to be stable and safe. It is also expected to remain this way and able to supply the needs for Lapeer Days through the weekend. The Lapeer Dept. of Public Works is also working with GLWA, the Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the state Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Lapeer County Health Dept. to take water samples at various locations inside the Lapeer Days festival areas to ensure the water remains safe to drink.
“People have been really good about the situation, which has been frustrating for a lot of people I know, but I think it’s been going pretty well,” said Craig Horton, Imlay City city manager.
The response to the water emergency in Lapeer County has been a multi-agency coordinated effort between local units of government, county government, Eastern Michigan State Fair management, as well as police, fire department and Dept. of Public Works directors and employees who have assisted in water distribution. The Lapeer County Road Commission has used manpower and trucks to transport water from locations in Oakland and Macomb counties to the local distribution sites.
Jeff Satkowski, director of Lapeer County Office of Emergency Management and the Lapeer County Central Dispatch, has coordinated the response with local authorities, GLWA and the State of Michigan. “There are a lot of people helping out on the Lapeer County response. I think, considering the circumstances, that things have been going really well. I haven’t heard too many complaints,” said Satkowski.
He added, “I cannot stress enough my appreciation for what the Road Commission has done during this time. What they’re doing is way outside the scope of what a Road Commission normally does. Their help has been incredible to get water where it’s needed to be.”
When the water emergency is over, Satkowski said he will submit costs and expenditures the involved local agencies have incurred to the State of Michigan for possible reimbursement. “Hopefully by the Governor declaring a State of Michigan it may help to get the expenses paid, but I don’t know how that part will work, but we’re already keeping track of everything that’s had to be spent.”
Repair work continues at the site of the break in St. Clair County with crews continuing efforts to stabilize the existing pipe. On Wednesday, concrete pads were poured under the existing pipe to prepare for removal of the damaged section of pipe, which is expected sometime this weekend.
In addition, GLWA continues further inspection of portions of the 120-inch transmission main while it is not filled with pressurized water. This inspection is occurring along the entire 26.1 miles of the main.
A 32-foot section of reinforced concrete pipe is being manufactured in Mississippi for the repair.
GLWA has expanded its request for the limiting outdoor water usage until the repair is completed to include all the communities that were originally under the precautionary Boil Water Advisory when it was issued on Aug. 13. The communities are the Village of Almont, Auburn Hills, Bruce Twp., Burtchville Twp. (near Port Huron), Chesterfield Twp., Clinton Twp., the City of Flint, Flint Twp., City of Imlay City, the City of Lapeer, Lenox Twp., Macomb Twp., Mayfield Twp., Village of New Haven, Orion Twp., the City of Pontiac, City of Rochester, the City of Rochester Hills, Shelby Twp., the City of Sterling Heights, the City of Troy, the City of Utica, and Washington Twp.
Boil Water Advisory instructions
Residents impacted by the Boil Water Advisory are advised to boil water for cooking purposes.
Fill a pot with water. Heat the water until bubbles come from the bottom of the pot to the top. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, let it boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat source and let the water cool. Pour the water into a clean container with a cover for storage.
Preparing and cooking food:
Wash all fruits and vegetables with boiled water that has cooled or bottled water.
• Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute before adding food to cook.
• Use boiled water when preparing drinks, such as coffee, tea, and lemonade
• Wash food preparation surfaces with boiled water.
• Do not use ice from ice trays, ice dispensers, or ice makers.
• Throw out all ice made with tap water.
• Make new ice with boiled or bottled water.
Bathing and showering
• Be careful not to swallow any water when bathing or showering. Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.
• Brush teeth with boiled or bottled water. Do not use untreated tap water.
• Household dishwashers generally are safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle.
To wash dishes by hand:
• Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would using hot water.
• In a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach for each gallon of warm water.
• Soak the rinsed dishes in the water for at least one minute.
• Let the dishes air dry completely.
• It is safe to do laundry as usual.
• Pets can get some of the same diseases as people. It is a good idea to give them boiled water that has been cooled.