Jul 12, 2023

1st test after Tuesday water main break in Macomb Co. comes back clear

Good news for the more than 150,000 residents in four Macomb County communities and part of one Oakland County city who are under a boil alert since a large water main break Tuesday: Tests on the water have come back clear of bacteria.

"Test results from the first round of water quality sampling have come back clear," officials with the Great Lakes Water Authority said in a statement Wednesday. "GLWA has also taken the second round of samples, which are currently being tested."

They said the results from the second round of testing are expected in 24 hours and they will notify all of the impacted communities once the water is determined to be safe to drink.

A leak in a 36-inch water transmission main on 24 Mile Road near North Avenue in Macomb Township was discovered just after 6 a.m. Tuesday. The cause of the leak is unclear but it resulted in a drop in water pressure, prompting the boil alert advisory.

The advisory was issued for Chesterfield Township, Lennox Township, Macomb Township, New Haven, and the east side of Rochester and will remain in effect until at least Thursday. That's when results from tests on the water will verify it is safe to drink.

More than an estimated 156,000 people live in the four Macomb County communities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rochester, which is in Oakland County, has a population of about 13,000. GLWA said Tuesday that about 152,000 people are affected.

Under the advisory, water needs to be boiled for at least one minute and then cooled to kill any bacteria in it, officials said. Bacteria may have grown in the system after the leak caused the drop in water pressure, they said. The bacteria is common and generally not harmful, but can cause illness.

Macomb County officials also said Tuesday that 24 Mile Road between North Avenue and Fairchild Road will be closed due to the water main break until Aug. 16, 2023, when repairs to the pipe are expected to be finished. Motorists should seek an alternate route.

Meanwhile, officials for one of the impacted communities, Chesterfield Township, said it distributed about 1,400 cases of bottled water to residents Tuesday.

Township Supervisor Brad Kersten said the community will distribute more Wednesday at Fire Station 3 on 23 Mile Road at Baker Road until about 4 p.m. He said the amount will depend on demand, but the township has about seven or eight palettes in its stores.

Kersten said he and officials with neighboring communities, the county and GLWA are scheduled to hold a conference call Wednesday to get an update. He said the officials are in constant communication, one of the silver linings in the main break.

Chesterfield residents, he said, have taken the problem in stride, despite it being a large inconvenience.

"Everyone is taking it just as it is," he said. "The water pressure was restored in a few hours and even though they can't drink it, they could still bathe and boil."

Kersten said Tuesday's water main break highlights the need to address the area's aging infrastructure.

"This is the second or third such break in the last two years," he said. "Our whole infrastructure is getting old and breaking. Clearly, this is something we're going to have to reassess and make sure we're prepared if it happens again."

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Twitter: @CharlesERamirez