Failed water main repair caused boil water alert March 27-29

Crews to retry repair April 5

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 3, 2015


Shelby Township officials scrambled to publicize word of a mandatory two-day boil water alert after they became aware of it at approximately 11 a.m. March 26. The alert lasted from 11 p.m. Friday, March 27 to approximately noon Sunday, March 29.

The boil water alert was issued because the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced that crews would attempt to fix a leak in a 96-inch water main in Washington Township along Campground Road, between 27 Mile and 28 Mile roads, late Friday night.

The repair required water pressure to dip below positive pressure, because past attempts to make the repair had failed, township officials said. If the water pressure dips below positive pressure for a significant amount of time, the state mandates that a boil water alert be put into effect and that water must be tested for contaminants.

“There’s the potential of back siphonage that will allow things to get drawn into the municipal water supply,” Shelby Township DPW Director David Miller said. “The things may be from factories, if somebody has a big tank they maybe use for cooling, or something even as simple as a slop sink in a restaurant with a hose attached to it.”

The DWSD attempted to make a prior repair at roughly 6 a.m. March 26, but was unsuccessful because the water pressure was too high to fix the leak.

“I could not be happier with the response of the employees in the DPW, police and departments that managed this crisis,” Supervisor Rick Stathakis said. “Unfortunately, as it pertains to the recent boil alert throughout the township, much of this issue was not in the hands of Shelby Township employees or officials.”

Despite the attempt to lower water pressure to repair the leak, crews once again were unsuccessful.

In its notice to the DPW, the DWSD wrote: “We were not successful in repairing the leak due to high pressures at the leak location. We did achieve our target for the pressure reductions … but for some reason the gushing leak at the leak location is prohibiting us to perform the repair.”

At press time, contractor Ric-Man Construction was scheduled to attempt the repair again beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, April 5. In order to avoid a disruption in water service and a boil water alert, workers would attempt to keep the water pressure at necessary levels.

The DWSD said residents would notice a decline in water pressure. As a precautionary measure, it recommended a boil water advisory until the repairs were completed. It said the repair should not exceed 24 hours.

The longer the leak remained without a fix, the more damage would occur and the more dangerous the situation would become for workers, according to a township announcement.

“It’s a huge main and, I think, basically up until this point, (crews from the city of Detroit) have been trying to do the least invasive way of fixing it — the method that would cause the least impact on the residents,” Miller said April 2. “Ric-Man is going to come in with some different equipment and tools.”

To receive up-to-date announcements and alerts, Shelby officials recommended that residents text their ZIP codes to 888777 to receive text messages directly to their cellphones through the Nixle emergency update system, or that they sign up for email notifications at

For updates or more information, visit or call the DPW at (586) 731-5990.