Burtchville Twp. still under boil advisory after water main break; Whitmer declares an emergency

·3 min read
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.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for communities in four southeastern Michigan counties, including St. Clair County after a regional water main break was reported this weekend.

However, Burtchville Township was — in addition to one business site — the only community in the county reportedly affected.

The Great Lakes Water Authority discovered a leak on a 120-inch water transmission main that distributes drinking water from its Lake Huron Water Treatment Facility in the early morning hours on Saturday.

Soon after, a boil water advisory was issued for communities across the region. The list of 23 communities, affecting an estimated 935,000 people, included Burtchville and the DTE Greenwood facility in the western half of St. Clair County, as well as Flint and many Detroit-area communities.

According to the water authority, the advisory was due to changing water pressure levels and out of an abundance of caution. Loss of water pressure, authorities said, can lead to bacterial contamination in the water system.

By Monday, Burtchville remained under a boil advisory, along with several other communities and the Greenwood site.

In the meantime, according to St. Clair County’s emergency management, bottled water was being made available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at the Burtchville Fire Department, 4000 Burtch Road, until the alert is lifted.

Justin Westmiller,  the county's emergency management director, said Burtchville is the only community customer of the Great Lakes Water Authority in the county. No other local water supplies were affected.

The state’s emergency operations center was activated as of 4 p.m. Saturday to respond to the ongoing water main break following requests for additional resources from local communities. Westmiller said the county had declared a local state of emergency by around noon Saturday.

Burtchville Fire Chief Mark Harrington said the township had gone through most of their pallets of bottled water by early Monday. Ten more pallets were expected to come in that day through the county's emergency management operations.

Westmiller there are 72 cases of 24 water bottles with each pallet. At some point, as the emergency was expected to continue over the next several days to a couple of weeks, he said they'd be switching to one-gallon canisters of water instead of bottles.

Burtchville Township was among the 23 communities affected by Saturday's water main break. It still remained under a water boil advisory as of Monday.
Burtchville Township was among the 23 communities affected by Saturday's water main break. It still remained under a water boil advisory as of Monday.

The remaining advisory area affected 133,000 residents, the authority reported. The water authority reported that some water pressure had been restored to all communities.

According to the authority’s release Sunday, crews isolated the break and began work to remove water from the site using four 8-inch pumps, preparing the area of repairs. A replacement pipe had been ordered and was being shipped via truck to Michigan from Texas.

The water authority reported the timeline for returning the pipeline to service to be two weeks, including one week for repairs and another for water quality testing.

State emergency personnel were reportedly monitoring the situation and working with other state and local officials and private partners to coordinate resources.

By declaring a state of emergency, according to the governor’s office, state resources were made available to local response and recovery efforts in the designated areas. It also authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate efforts to help.

Under the precautionary boil water advisory, residents were advised not to drink water without first boiling it. They were also advised to bring water to a boil for at least one minute before letting it cool for use.

Boiled, bottled, or disinfected water could be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, or preparing food until further notice.

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: Burtchville Twp. still under boil water advisory, Whitmer declares emergency