(Detroit Free Press)A large portion of Detroit – including downtown, Midtown, Hamtramck and Allen Park - is under a boil water advisory and is expected to continue until possibly Friday morning.
Here's what you need to know about a boil water advisory.
What is a boil water advisory?
It's a public health advisory given by government officials when a city or community's water system could be contaminated by bacteria. Until the advisory is lifted, residents are advised to boil water before drinking it or using it to cook to ensure there is no bacteria before consumption.
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Who is affected by Detroit's boil water advisory?
The original advisory that went out Tuesday night said residents and businesses south of McNichols and east of Linwood and west of Conner were being advised to boil water before drinking it or using it to cook. The Free Press and others reported it affected parts of Detroit and Highland Park and Hamtramck. The revised alert that went out just before noon on Wednesday made it clear that the affected area extended south to the riverfront and included downtown and Midtown.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department boil water advisory area (Photo: Marth Thierry, Detroit Free Press)
What caused Detroit's boil water advisory?
According to the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD), the possibility of bacterial contamination occurred when there was a temporary drop in pressure from one pump at the system's big water-treatment plant on East Jefferson, at the former Water Works Park (long closed to the public). "Bacteria are generally not harmful and are common throughout the environment," the release said.
What do I need to do during a boil water advisory?
According to the advisory, you should bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice, according to the release.
In addition, local businesses and restaurants may have to clean out and sanitize their ice bins, like Detroit's Parc restaurant at Campus Martius had to do.
What if I don't know about the boil water advisory and drink and/or use the water anyway?
There is likely no reason for concern in this particular case, according to Gary Brown, head of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department: "It's precautionary, but at the same time we didn't want to take any chances," he said. "Out of an abundance of caution we put out the alert. The water pressure is back up in every area of the city, and as soon as we get the green light from the DEQ we will revoke the boil water alert."
That said, you should always take the same level of precautionary measures to ensure protection against contamination.
What must be done for a boil water advisory to be lifted?
Whenever a water system loses pressure and forces a boil water advisory, water-safety technicians need 48 hours to complete tests to assure that the supply is pure, said DWSD officials.