The Rapidian Home

Boil water advisory issued for Northeast Grand Rapids after water main break

Residents living east of US 131 and north of Hall Street in Grand Rapids are urged to boil water following a significant water main break impacting multiple districts. A public safety alert notifies residents of the disruption.
Grand Rapidians stock up on bottled water after Water Boil Notice was sent out

Grand Rapidians stock up on bottled water after Water Boil Notice was sent out /The Rapidian

Boil Water Alert

English: This is a boil water alert from the City of Grand Rapids Water System.  If you are in the area East of US 131 and North of Hall Street, DO NOT drink the tap water without boiling it first. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and allow to cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other harmful organisms in the water. More information, including a map showing the affected area, is available on the City’s website at If you have further questions, or need to report a water/sewer emergency, please contact customer service by dialing 616-456-3000, or dial 3-1-1 if you are within the city limits. You will receive another notification when the advisory is lifted. 

Spanish: ¡Este es un aviso de hervir agua para residentes de la ciudad de Grand Rapids!Se ha pronunciado un aviso de hervir agua a los residentes de la ciudad a que se encuentran en el área Este de US 131 y Norte de Hall Street, NO beba el agua del grifo sin hervirla primero. El agua hervida o embotellada debe usarse para beber, hacer hielo, cepillarse los dientes, lavar los platos y preparar los alimentos hasta nuevo aviso. Deja hervir el agua por un minuto y deje enfriar antes de usar. Hervir el agua mata a los organismos bacterianos y dañinos en el agua. Más información, incluyendo un mapa que muestra el área afectada está disponible en la página de web de la Ciudad en Si tiene más preguntas o necesita reportar una emergencia de agua / alcantarillado, comuníquese con el servicio al cliente marcando 616-456-3000, o marque 3-1-1 si se encuentra dentro de los límites de la ciudad. Recibirá otra notificación cuando se levante el aviso de hervir el agua.

/The Rapidian

Around 20,000 residents on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids are being urged to boil their water following a significant water main break that has impacted multiple water pumping pressure districts.

"As a precaution, Grand Rapids Water customers east of US 131 and north of Hall Street should boil their water as crews work to make repairs due to the loss in pressure for a large area and pressure districts impacted," stated the City in a press release issued Sunday afternoon.

The Grand Rapids Water Department is actively responding to the water main break.

Phones across Grand Rapids received a Public Safety Alert just after 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, attributing the water boil notice to a "water disruption with low to no water pressure."

According to a press release from the City Sunday evening, the water main break is in the vicinity of Leonard St. NE and Union Ave. NE.

"Crews have begun repairs and water pressure should be restored through the service area soon. Residents may notice fire hydrants throughout the Northeast side of the City pumping water as we flush the system," the press release stated.

The press release also said that a typical water advisory lasts 3-4 days "as we flush the system and sample according to State and Federal requirements once the main break is fixed. However, you will receive another notification when the advisory is lifted."

The PSA also alerted residents that a return to normal status is currently unknown and encouraged them to follow social media for updates on the situation.

A notice on the City Water System Department's website states the communities impacted include the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Township only. "If you live outside of this quadrant, your water is safe for use," according to the notice.

"The immediate concern is starting repair and the precautionary boiling," said City of Grand Rapids Director of Communications David Green.

During a Sunday night press conference at the City of Grand Rapids Water System Administration office, Water System Manager Wayne Jernberg said he's "never seen anything like this" during his time with the City. 

Jernberg said the City was alerted about a pressure drop Sunday afternoon, which led them to discover a water main break near Union Avenue and Leonard Street in a "very remote area along the Carrier Creek."

Jernberg said the pressure drop from the water main break caused the City's pressure switches to alert and shut the pumps off. 

Nobody in the area is currently without water, Jernberg said, but around 20,000 residents and businesses in this area are with potentially compromised water. Though, Jernberg said lead is not a concern. 

Repairs and water testing are planned to take place Monday, but residents are asked to boil water until Wednesday at the earliest, per direction from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The City will alert residents when the water boil notice has been lifted.

The City of Grand Rapids is a regional provider of water to municipalities in Kent and Ottawa counties and serves a population of approximately 280,000 covering a service area of 137 square miles.

In December, the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the cost for water and sewer in 2024 to go up by 3.68% — the average resident paying about $9 more — to pay for the cost of water main repairs across the city. 

Jernberg said the water main that broke Sunday was not one of the mains scheduled to be repaired by the City in 2024, and the City was doing work on water lines in that area "in the last month or so." However, when asked if there was a connection between the recent work and the water main break, Jernberg was unable to give an answer at that time.

The City submitted a request in January to EGLE for a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan to cover the cost of installation of a new water main, water main replacement, and lead service line replacement. The total estimated project cost of these projects is $33,120,000, according to the City's proposal.

According to the project proposal, Grand Rapids has eight projects proposed for construction over the next several years, five of them being city-only projects, and three being system-wide projects.

For this current Fiscal Year, Grand Rapids intends to address one city-only project to replace aged water mains, dead-end lines and lead service lines, according to the proposal.

"Sections of cast iron water main built prior to 1940 exist throughout the system, all of which have the risk of failure at any time, particularly in winter months. It is Grand Rapids’ policy to remove these old brittle water mains as well as to remove dead-ends, and [lead service lines] from the system," wrote City Engineer Tim Burkman in the loan request to the State. "Dead end lines result in the breakdown of chlorine residuals, increasing the risk of lead and other contaminates to the water users. In recent years the threat of lead has become a well-known public health hazard and [lead service lines] are required under the Michigan Lead and Copper rule to be replaced."

Water main replacement will occur in several locations within Grand Rapids, including on Hall Street and Paris Avenue, Fremont Avenue, Eleanor Street, and Valley Avenue, Burkman wrote in the proposal.

The City is currently collecting public input on the State’s initial decision that the City does not require an Environmental Impact Statement to be completed for the water main installation and lead service line replacement projects.

Updated, 3/17/2024, 5:15 p.m. with more details
3/17/2024, 7:30 p.m. with more details from the City
Updated, 3/18/2024, 9:35 a.m. with more details from press conference

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.