TROY, Mich. (WXYZ) — It’s a rare warning in a Great Lakes state, but nearly one million residents in metro Detroit are now being told to limit water use and keep outdoor sprinklers off.
“What we’re seeing is that people are trying to use the system as if we’re at normal operations,” said Cheryl Porter, chief operating officer for the Great Lakes Water Authority.
GLWA sent the notice out Wednesday to 23 communities after noticing dips in pressure, stemming from ongoing repairs to a major line break near Port Huron.
“That is having a larger draw on this system than what we can appropriately handle right now because of the emergency conditions we’re in,” Porter said. “We're asking for people not to do things that are not absolutely necessary, so we can make sure we have sufficient supply for all of the demand on the system.”
In Troy, the city issued an emergency suspension on outdoor irrigation. About 80% of residents and businesses in the city get their water from Port Huron. But with that source closed off, they and other communities are getting all of their water from Detroit.
“That system isn't really designed to service that many customers, so what we’re seeing at night during irrigation times is we’re seeing a drop in pressure," city of Troy Public Works Director Kurt Bovensiep said. "Anytime you drop below 20 PSI, you have to have a boil water advisory because contaminants can get into the water system. We were seeing right at that threshold during nights, so I'm glad the Great Lakes Water Authority asked all cities to participate in this."
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Sterling Heights also issued a similar alert, hoping to keep up pressure and avoid another boil advisory.
“It's a minor inconvenience considering all that’s at stake here,” Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool said. “As one of the largest cities on the system, we want to do whatever we can to help the greater good.”
In Troy, some residents feel the same way, vowing to keep the sprinklers off until repairs are done.
“We're grateful to be able to still use our water and drink our water and let mother nature do her thing,” resident Barbara Weeks said.
The city of Troy does have the ability to issue citations if people break the order and water their lawns, but the city doesn't expect any citations will be issued.