Sprinkling Ban Lifted – Level Three Water Emergency

Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | Press & Media, News & Announcements

The City of Wyoming has lifted the Sprinkling Ban with the completion of the unplanned, emergency transmission main repair. The repair temporarily reduced the capacity of the water system making it necessary to institute a Sprinkling Ban. This ban, which included all outdoor irrigation, ended Wednesday, August 19 at 11:00 p.m.

Media Release PDF - sprinkling ban ends

Media Release PDF - sprinkling ban begins
Formal Public Notice

Sprinkling Ban

Areas Under Sprinkling Ban

Our water treatment plant serves many municipalities extending from Kentwood to the lakeshore. The areas listed below were under a Sprinkling Ban due to an emergency repair that began Tuesday, August 11 at 6:00 a.m. and ended on Wednesday, August 19 at 11:00 p.m.

The communities served by the Wyoming water system include the following.

Ottawa County:

Kent County:

No Sprinkling Success!

We did it! Together, we reduced our water demand during this critical repair. We needed our drinking water customers to stop using water for irrigation until the emergency repair had been completed. The ban lasted a total of 9 days due to an emergency repair on one of our two main water transmission mains. This meant no sprinklers or irrigation systems could be used while the repair took place.

You helped our 230,000 West Michigan customers maintain their water pressure! Low water pressure can lead to challenges like boil water advisories and with the help of our wonderful community members, we maintained high water quality during the repair without any boil advisories. Water customers like you helped by eliminating sprinkling for 9 days.


Great Water Quality

Our water remains safe and drinkable when water pressure is maintained. The emergency repair itself didn’t impact water quality. Fortunately, our community reduced  the demand for water and avoided hazards like cross connections. Review our Water Quality Report 2019. It details the safety, reliability, and quality of water we distribute.


Emergency Repair

Emergency Transmission Main Repair

We recently discovered a small crack in the older of our two water transmission mains. We needed to repair it as soon as possible to prevent it from turning into a larger, devastating break.

What is a transmission main? Transmission mains carry a massive amount of clean, drinkable water. Our two transmission mains carry water from the Donald K. Shine Water Treatment Plant on the lakeshore. They supply water to communities across West Michigan in addition to the City of Wyoming. To ensure the safety of the water, transmission mains are under high pressure. The pressure carries it throughout the water system to our 230,000 water customers while preventing it from becoming contaminated.


Approximate Timeline

July 30: A resident reported a suspected water leak.

July 31 – August 3: We excavated to determine the level of damage.

August 3 – 6: Our Public Works team developed a plan for emergency repair.

August 6 – 10:  The replacement pipe segment was shipped and determined to be a suitable replacement.

August 7 – 19: Launched media release, webpage, and social strategy. The multi-jurisdiction communication campaign had to rely on word-of-mouth, media coverage, and social media due to the short-term repair.

August 11: Sprinkling Ban begins across the water service area (NO SPRINKLING)

August 11 – 12: The transmission main is drained so that work can commence, which can take several days because it is a lot of water.

August 12 – 19: The repair work is carried out.

August 19: Sprinkling Ban ends and the water system returns to normal capacity. (Originally expected to end August 24)


Reason for Sprinkling Ban: Water Demand Peaks in the Summer

We would rather this had happened in the winter when water demand is low. We would have been able to fix this problem without any of our customers even knowing the work was being done. Why? Well, in the winter our customers use less water, about 2/3 less water. Demand in the winter is often as low as 25 million gallons of water per day. This summer we’ve been providing about 70 million gallons of water per day on average. On some of the very hot days, our customers used 87 million gallons of water per day.

The smaller of the two transmission mains can carry up to 40 million gallons of water per day. To provide more than this, we need the second transmission main. So we're asking our customers to stop irrigating while we make the needed repairs. We got back to normal water capacity without having to issue boil advisories, thanks to community members following the Sprinkling Ban. 


About Water Lines

Benefits of Two Transmission Mains

Our Drinking Water Plant has two transmission mains that carry water from the plant to the communities we serve. One of these lines is 4.5 feet wide and the other is 3.5 feet wide. Having two lines allows us to make this repair on one while continuing to supply water with the other. This means 230,000 people will continue to have water during the emergency repair.

Having two lines in operation also means we can offer enough water to cover peak demand. The smaller water transmission line alone can't meet peak demand. That’s why we asked our water customers to stop sprinkler activity until we completed the repair.


Causes of Water Line Breaks

Though water line breaks are more common than transmission main breaks, they both break for the same reasons. Age, weather, and pressure changes can cause a water line to become stressed making it weaker. Over time, temperature changes can cause the soil and ground to naturally shift and can put pressure on water lines. Temperature changes can stress lines by expanding and contracting the pipe material. Acidic soils can impact the pipe material, weakening them over time. Time itself can cause line material to gradually degrade. These stresses can weaken the pipes, leading to breaks. It’s difficult to determine the exact cause of a water line break but it’s likely one or more of the stresses listed here.


Difference Between Water Transmission Mains and Distribution Lines

At one point or another, you probably have seen a water repair. Typically, water line breaks do not disrupt water service to your home or business. This is because the water system is built like a grid and interconnects. When one line is shut off to repair it, water pressure remains the same throughout the system. Transmission mains are different. They are larger and carry all the water coming from the drinking water plant. When you shut a transmission main off, it cuts off the total amount of water provided to the system.

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