EAST LANSING, Mich. — In response to the incident that required a Boil Water Advisory to be issued earlier this month, the East Lansing Meridian Water and Sewer Authority (ELMWSA) has filed a report with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) that outlines preventative steps that will be taken to reduce the likelihood of future emergencies.
The Boil Water Advisory was issued on Friday, Aug. 5 after a plant operator inadvertently initiated a backwash on a filter that was still in service, causing the potential for harmful bacteria to enter the water supply distribution systems for East Lansing and Meridian Township. After consulting with the MDEQ, it was determined that a Boil Water Advisory would be issued. During the Boil Water Advisory, two rounds of water samples were collected and tested. The tests results confirmed that the distribution systems were never contaminated.
In its report to the MDEQ, ELMWSA outlines a number of immediate, near-term and long-term steps that will be taken to help prevent a recurrence of this type of event. Effective immediately, it will be required that two operators be present for filter backwashes until the near-term steps are accomplished. The near-term steps are as follows:
- ELMWSA plant procedures will be reviewed and updated; all operators will be trained on the revised procedures.
- Modifications will be made to the filter controls to provide interlock protection against operation of the valves associated with a backwash procedure if the filter is in service.
In addition to the near-term steps, the following long-term steps were also included in the report:
- A recommendation for a closed-cycle backwash recovery system and alternative disposal of lime lagoon overflow will be presented to the ELMWSA Board of Trustees.
- A recommendation for a second clear-well reservoir will be presented to the ELMWSA Board of Trustees.
“In addition to this report, an after-action review is already underway to capture lessons learned from this incident,” said ELMWSA Operations Manager Clyde Dugan. “We understand the impact this incident had on the community and will be making every effort to prevent occurrences like these in the future.”
“We appreciate ELMWSA’s pro-active response in the aftermath of this incident and will be tracking the progress of the steps outlined in the report in cooperation with the ELMWSA Board,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. “We want our residents to feel reassured that the incident is being thoroughly reviewed and preventative measures have been and will continue to be implemented.”
At its regular meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18, the ELMWSA Board of Trustees reviewed the incident and authorized the addition of interlocked controls on the filters. View ELMWSA's report.