Bay City may have located elusive water main break

Aug 11, 2014

Bay City officials believe they have finally found a water main break that has drained the city’s water system.

This sign greeted people entering the Bay City YMCA today.
This sign greeted people entering the Bay City YMCA today.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

City officials estimate that between 15 and 20 million gallons of water have leaked from the city’s water system since Saturday.

Ryan Manz is Bay County’s emergency management coordinator. He says late today they identified a 36-inch water main which appears to be the source of the leak.

“The water, when the main broke, it found its way into an old storm sewer which lead directly out into the (Saginaw) River. So we weren’t able to see it aboveground,” says Manz.

Crews trying to confirm the source of the leak are having their job complicated by extremely heavy rains this afternoon.   

An emergency order restricting water use may be lifted later tonight if the source of the leak is confirmed.   

Since Sunday, more than 90,000 Bay County residents have been asked to restrict their water use to drinking, bathing and cooking. They've been asked not to do laundry or water their lawns. 

Lifting the ban would also be a great relief to many Bay County businesses. The city requested some of the heaviest commercial water users to not use any water today.

Tammy Brinkman is the head of the Bay City YMCA. The Y had to shut down its showers and steam room to conserve water.

“Some people, if they come here during the day and go back to work, they are going to second-guess coming here, but they’ve all been very cooperative. We haven’t had a lot of complaints,” says Brinkman.

No one may be happier to see an end to the city’s water crisis than Bay City Manager Richard Finn. 

“I can only comment by saying that we hope, at least for the time that I’m here, this never happens again,” says Finn.