All BC water customers under boil water advisory

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — All Battle Creek city water customers are under a boil water advisory after a contractor hit a major water line, city officials say.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The city says a contractor was working on a project for ITC to improve electric service reliability when a worker hit a 30-inch main near the Verona Pumping Station Tuesday morning. The city says it had the break isolated and the main shut off within an hour of the incident, by 11:40 a.m.

However, the water station couldn’t boost its output enough to counteract the water pressure drop caused by the break, so a boil water advisory has been issued for all customers of the municipal water system. Battle Creek City Water Superintendent Perry Hart says the advisory affects 55,000 people, including Springfield residents and those living in Bedford, Emmett, Leroy and Pennfield townships.

The city urges all water customers to boil their water for at least one minute to kill any potential bacteria before using it, or opt for bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food until further notice.

THE IMPACT

“We understand that this has been a huge disruption for customers today — I see our friends from Bronson Hospital, we’ve also talked with Post, we’ve talked with our friends at Grace Health and we do understand this has been a disruption,” said Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury.

At Bronson Battle Creek, the emergency room remained open, but ambulances were diverted to other hospitals and elective surgeries were canceled Tuesday. All other services were running as normal, and walk-ins were still being welcomed.

Fleury said they didn’t think bottled water was necessary, but Battle Creek Public Schools was already working to get bottled water and hand sanitizer in all schools Tuesday afternoon. The district said it was also contacting families about the water issue and sending them tips about how to effectively boil water.

City officials says because a transmission line was hit, service was interrupted for customers to the north. 

Hart said because the Verona station is a two-level system, pumping water into a lower level, then using a booster system, customers on the southside of town could see discolored water.

“One of the primary causes for that is when we have a failure at our pumping station, water tends to reverse and flow and go to the area of lowest pressure. When you have a large hole in the side of a 30-inch pipe, that pressure becomes very low. So (when) water in the river district, the river valley, reverse flow, it will stir up a lot of sediment in our water mains in the lower portion of the water system,” Hart explained.

At Umami Ramen, a restaurant near the heart of downtown, the water coming out of the faucets Tuesday afternoon was brown.

“(It’s) not very good,” owner Pecoon Allen told 24 Hour News 8. “Not very good for business, not good for the city, not good for the customers.”

Rather than boil the water, she decided to close the restaurant early as a precaution. Some other restaurants did the same thing.

“It’s not worth the risk,” Allen said. “One incident could put us out of business.

Hart recommendrf customers with discolored water perform a cold water flush, running cold water through internal plumbing, perferably through faucets without strainers that would collect sediment.

“Bath tubs are excellent spots… outdoor faucets are a good spot. These should be done with cold water supplies only. Make sure you’ve got clear water running through your home’s plumbing before you flush your hot water tank. We don’t want you brining that sediment into your hot water heater,” Hart added.

—24 Hour News 8’s Evan Dean contributed to this report.

WHAT’S NEXT

The city says it will take at least 24 hours for initial tests to come back to determine if the water is safe to drink and the boil water advisory can be lifted. The results are expected no sooner than late Wednesday afternoon.

The water supervisor said crews valved off the broken pipe, meaning the water system is operating as normal, treating water and pushing it out at normal pressure. He said it will take more time to repair the old concrete reinforced pipe that broke.

The city says residents with questions can contact the Verona Pumping Station at 269.966.3493, but may have difficulties getting through because of high call volumes.

>>WATCH: Battle Creek water main break news conference

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