facebook twitter youtube

Water, Sanitary and Storm Sewer FAQs

Water Questions and Answers
Where our water comes from and where it goes.
Sewer Questions and Answers
Cleaning up the Mess (what to do after a basement backup)

I got a door hanger telling me that DPW could not read my meter. What does this mean and what happens next?
Answer:  This happens normally when the magnet in your old water meter stops working. You need to contact DPW for an appointment Monday-Friday between 7:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. A DPW employee will come to your house and replace the
water meter with a new one. There is no charge for this service.  Clear things away from your meter before DPW arrives so your meter is accessible.

Question:  Isn't my meter outside?  Why does DPW need to come inside my house?
Answer:  The black box on the side of your house is simply an outside reading device. This touch pad is connected to your actual water meter which is normally found in your basement.  To read your meter, the DPW employee needs to affix a reading device to the outside black box.  You can help by keeping the area around the pad clear of debris and overgrowth.

Question:  I think I have a very high water bill, what can I do?
Answer:  If you think you have a high water bill, DPW is happy to come to your house to do a REREAD.  We check for any leaks and try to identify the source of the problem. Remember, even an intermittent leaky toilet can result in a high water which we may not detect when we are at your home.  You can help identify the problem by doing your "homework".  Make sure that all faucets and toilets turn off completely, all the time.  You are only billed for water that passes through your meter.

Question:  What if I feel there are no leaks and my water bill is still high.
Answer:  Your water bill is based solely on the water that passes through your meter.  If you think that your water meter is inaccurate, you can have it tested.  There is a $30 fee which must be paid, in advance, at City Hall.  DPW will then make arrangements to meet you at your house, transport your meter to DPW and test your meter with you in attendance.  If your meter tests outside the allowable parameters (accurate within 5% high or low), your fee will be refunded. 

Question:  If my water is off because of a water main break, when will the water be turned back on?
Answer:  DPW crews try to get the water back on after repairing a water main break as quickly as possible. Each situation is different so it is impossible to predict the exact time it will take. Be assured the DPW will stay on the job until the water is back on. When your water comes back on, first run the cold water near your laundry tub to clear the system of any discoloration from your pipes.

Question:  Why does my water look cloudy or rusty?
Answer:  There are a couple of conditions that could cause the water to appear cloudy and/or rusty. Whenever there is a large draw of water from the water main, such as broken water mains, fire fighting, hydrant flushing, etc., the mineral deposits that has accumulated within the interior of the water main get stirred up and become suspended particle thus producing the discoloration in the water. This condition will not last. However, if the water does not clear in a reasonable amount of time, contact the Department of Public Works at 248.547.1888.

Question: Is the water safe to drink when it is cloudy and/or rusty?
Answer: If the reason for the cloudy and/or rusty appearance in the water is caused from the reasons stated in the previous answer, then the answer is "YES."

Question: Why does my water sometimes look cloudy or yellowish when I return home after the water has been off for awhile?
Answer: When water is off for a period of time, such as when you are away on vacation or even at work or asleep, water can pick up sediment from your pipes. This may be true even if you cannot see any change in the way your water looks. In general, it is a good idea to let the water at the tap run for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using your water for drinking or cooking when your water has sat. This will clear any sediment there may be in your pipes including, for those with lead services, small traces of lead that may be present, ..

Question: I am having a plumber change the valve on the city side of my water meter, how can I get the water turned off?
  If you would like DPW to turn the water off at the curb, call DPW at least one business day in advance. DPW will verify that we can, in fact, turn your water off at the curb. We will then make arrangements with you to turn the water off so your plumber can make the necessary repairs. We will then come and turn your water back on. Often when we do this, we take the opportunity to replace your old water meter with a new one.

Question:  What causes low water pressure?
Answer:  What seems like low water pressure is generally a reduction in volume.  Some of the causes of "low" water pressure can be an undetected broken water main,poor internal piping or particles in the screen of faucets.  Water is delivered to the City and to your home at a pressure of 60 psi (pounds per square inch.)

go to top of page

Sewer Questions and Answers

:  What should I do if my street is flooded?
AnswerMany city catch basin covers are designed to slow the release of rain water into the storm sewer system.  As a result, streets may become temporarily flooded.  The goal is to keep storm water flowing very gradually into the storm system.  Debris on top of the catch basin is useful as it acts to further slow drainage.  When necessary, during a storm event, DPW crews will clear the debris.  When driving, avoid flooded streets and when driving through rain water, proceed with care.  After the storm, it is helpful it you move some of the debris off the top of the catch basin covers.  Remember slow is good, so NEVER remove a catch basin top.

Question:  What do I do if there is water backing up in my basement?
Answer:  There are several reasons that you may experience basement water. Basement water usually occurs during or shortly thereafter a rainfall. Tree roots, disposable diapers, grease and other materials are key contributors to obstructing the flow of sewers. When these obstructions take place in your own sewer service, they prevent not only the water that is used internally throughout the household from flowing to the City's main sewer, but also prevents the water that has built up below
your basement floor and around the basement walls from flowing freely to the main sewer as well. The water will then try to equalize the pressure and seek its own level by coming through the cracks in the walls, cracks in the floor, the floor/wall seam, and most commonly, up through the floor drains.  Call a plumber to clear out your line from inside your house to the city's main line. In addition, call DPW so that we can check our lines as well. In general, if it is the city's line, more than one house may be backing up. Remember, water in the street, slowly draining into the sewer system, means fewer chances of water backing up into your basement.  If you need assistance when DPW is not open, call Public Safety at 248.541.1180 and they will contact someone at DPW.

 Whose responsibility is it if I have a problem with my sewer line located between the property line and the main sewer?
Answer: The property owner is responsible for their sewer service lead all the way from the home or building to the main sewer, including the connection to the main sewer. The City is responsible for the maintenance of the main sewer line only.

go to top of page

The Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority DPW Advisory Committee has drafted procedures on cleaning and sanitizing after you have experienced a flood or sewage in your basement. Those procedures are as follows:

If flood waters or sewage fill your basement, you must clean properly to prevent you and your family from becoming sick or injured. Do not bring children into the flooded area during clean-up! The following are steps on how to clean up a flood or sewage problem.

Important: Please read the complete article before starting to clean and sanitize. Once you begin, be sure to wear the appropriate eye, nose and body protection, and follow the instructions on the cleaning labels.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  1. Drain all flood waters and/or sewage by natural draining or pumping.
  2. Remove dirt, soil and debris from surfaces that came in contact with the flood waters.
  3. Wash down all walls, floors and surfaces that the flood waters or sewage touched with clean, warm or hot water and a low suds detergent.
  4. Rinse again with warm or hot water.
  5. Sanitize by rinsing walls, floors and surfaces using one of the following mixtures:
    - 2 tablespoons (tbs) of Lysol/Pine-Sol per gallon of water used, or- 8 tablespoons (tbs) of Laundry bleach (i.e. Clorox, Roman Cleanser) in each gallon of water used.
  6. Air the area by opening windows or using fans.
  7. Prevent tracking of flood debris and sewage into clean areas.

The following guidelines should be followed when entering a flooded area with gas and/or electric present: 

  1. Have the utility companies shut off the gas and electricity.
  2. Do not touch the fuse box or any plugged-in cords or appliances until the electricity is shut off. Touching these could result in electrocution.
  3. If an electrical appliance motor or controls is submerged under water, do not start it until consulting with the dealer or a service company.
  4. Do not re-light appliances until checked by the gas company. Make sure all pilot lights are on before re-lighting burners.
  5. Do not light matches until the gas is turned off. If there is a gas leak, it could cause an explosion.

Foods that are contaminated can make you and your family sick. They should be dealt with in the following manner:

  1. Destroy and discard all contaminated bottle and boxed foods.
  2. Canned goods (including home canned jars) may be kept if cleaned thoroughly.

    To clean containers: - Scrub with soap and water. (Use a brush around the rim of home canned jars.) - Submerge in chlorinated water for 15 minutes (1 ounce of bleach per gallon of water).

  3. Food stored in a freezer will keep for 2 days after losing power, if the freezer is full (1 day for a half-full freezer) and not opened.
  4. If your freezer cannot be started in a day or two, store food in someone else's freezer.
  5. Meat that has ice crystals may safely be refrozen. If it is only "cool feeling" it is best to cook it, and then refreeze it.
  6. Food stored in a refrigerator will keep for 4-6 hours after losing power, depending on how warm it is in the kitchen. Do not open the refrigerator unless absolutely necessary. You may add ice to the refrigerator if you know it will be turned on soon.
  7. Throw out anything with an unusual color, odor, or if a perishable food is above 45 F internally.
  8. Place discarded food in a tightly closed container until pick up or disposal.

Clothing and Bedding
Clothing, carpets, furniture, toys and/or bedding should be discard unless they are cleaned and disinfected. Movable objects could be put outdoors to be cleaned and dry in the sunlight. Discarded clothing should be placed in a tightly closed container until pick up or disposal.

After clean up, make sure that all clothing and parts of the body that came into contact with the flood waters and sewage are thoroughly washed. Be sure to wash hands immediately.

If you have any additional questions regarding your sewer, please contact the Department of Public Works office during regular working hours Monday - Friday, 8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M. at 248.547.1888.

go to top of page

If you have any additional questions, please contact DPW during regular working hours Monday - Friday, 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM.