Twelve communities in Oakland County were under a boil water advisory as a result of a main water pipe breakage. It affected 304,970 people, 51,000 of which are without water in their homes. As officials are still trying to figure out the cause of the break, schools, hospitals, and emergency services are scrambling to operate under the circumstances.
The small water pipe broke on the evening of Monday, October 23. It was located in Farmington Hills, under 14 Mile Road, between Farmington Road and Drake Road. The pipe was installed in 1970 and designed to last an entire century. However, due to an unknown cause, it failed fifty-three years before its estimated replacement date.
The pipe’s downfall has caused many problems within the community. For example, hospitals’ water supplies have been cut. Patients in serious condition were relocated, and all elective surgeries were cancelled. However, the hospitals are currently up and running without water. Many schools were closed on Tuesday as a result of the break, including those in West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, the northern half of Farmington Hills, Walled Lake, and Novi. Schools in Farmington Hills remained closed on Wednesday. To top it off, businesses have been affected, as well. All restaurants were mandated to boil water before serving it to customers. Plus, the high demand in bottled water made the Kroger in Novi sell their entire stock. Employees put up a sign in the window that read: ‘NO BOTTLED WATER.’ This entire situation shows how reliant our community is on tap water.
As for WBHS, thousands of water bottles were purchased for students who needed them during the school day. They could have been found in the attendance office. The school faced scrutiny for having school from the students while others understand that it wasn’t too much of a setback. “I think that it’s not bad that we have school because our teachers and principal have found ways to work around it in order to give us an education. Also, Flint hasn’t had clean water for an extremely long time so we should stop getting upset about our water since it was only affected for 5 days”, senior Simran Singh said. The effect that the water break has had on our community is just a small struggle compared to those in Flint who have had water problems for 2 years. The school is holding a water drive where all of the water donated will be given to Flint residents. If you are able to, BE SURE TO DONATE!
“The Great Lakes Water Authority is still investigating the cause of the break,” said Deputy Chief Lawson. According to their website, the Great Lakes Water Authority is the water and sewer authority that serves 40% of Michiganders. Lawson also added that “West Bloomfield… is pushing everything out through social media, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. So, we [the Public Safety Department] have conference calls between all the cities and Great Lakes Water Authority, we get the information, the information that we can validate, and then we push that out to all of our residents.” One of the city’s Facebook posts reached 29,000 views on October 25. Clearly, people are receiving the information they’re putting out.
“I feel that if the school cannot provide clean water to drink, cook, and wash our hands, then we shouldn’t have school,” said Eden Joyrich, a concerned junior. Many students felt this way, as they protested on Twitter. Unfortunately, students’ efforts to stop school from happening did not work, and school resumed on Tuesday.
Repairs started on the pipe on Wednesday and then water testing had to take place. While repairing the pipe, a leak was found which further delayed the lift of the water boil advisory. To the relief of the community, the water advisory was finally lifted on Monday, October 30.