Multiple water main breaks across Detroit leave many frustrated as they deal with low water pressure

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 19:22:31-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroiters are feeling the heat even more with multiple water main breaks across the city.

This past weekend alone, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department recorded 40 water main breaks, of which 28 are now fixed.

7 Action News reporter Faraz Javed looks at the residents' frustrations and the root cause behind the problem.

"It's been really hard, trying to cook, wash dishes, trying to keep us from not being smelly because we can't wash up," said Latice Shaw.

On the city's northwest side on Prevost Street, last Monday a water main break was repaired within 48 hours, but 20 yards away there was another water main burst.

On top of all that, Shaw is a dialysis patient. That's why she needs access to her driveway to get to the hospital, but since last week it's been a challenge. What's more, Latice has also spent over $50 dollars on bottled water this week alone.

Meanwhile, her neighbor, Michael Davis, spent money on doing laundry at a laundromat. The reason? Low water pressure in his bathroom.

"It's barely coming out, and in the kitchen, it's not coming out at all," said Davis.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Gary Brown says water main breaks are a common problem across the city and they're fixed in a couple of days. But this past weekend, the hot weather exacerbated the problem.

"When you have a change in temperature, whether it's going up or down, you have a shifting of the soil, and of course, these are pipes, and they are not going to give way to shifting soil, so they give way and break," said Gary Brown, Director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Gary says there was also an uptick in water usage. This Sunday alone, 700 million gallons of water was used across the regions compared to 633 million gallons of water last Sunday.

"What kind of water usage went up? Are we talking about watering plants, showering, and bathroom usage?" asked Javed.

"All of that, I mean when downtown is filled with people, there are toilets flushing, and, certainly, that's going to cause an uptick in demand. But this isn't just a Detroit system, it's a regional system," said Brown.

Gary says the Great Lakes Water Authority services 120 communities within southeast Michigan. But these failures are helping to future-proof the system.

"This is all data that we use to model our system to understand where the probability of failure is and the consequences," said Brown.

Meanwhile, three miles away on Rutherford and Fenkell, another water main break was spotted. But there, the crew was already on the scene. Putting a smile on Millie Stewart's face.

"Yes, we called. They came right out, and they finished," said Millie Stewart.

"We are prioritizing senior citizens, kids in schools, and hospitals first," said Brown.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says the remaining 12 water main breaks will be repaired this week. Meanwhile, people don't need to ration water usage, just be smart and don't waste it.