Water authority says pump stations did not fail during flood, but suffered challenges

Metro Detroit residents are searching for answers one week after SE Michigan works to search for solutions after massive rainfall led to massive flooding.

Great Lakes Water Authority officials are claiming their pump station did not fail, but had operational challenges.

"The flooding was caused by the amount and the intensity of the rain which was more than what typically falls in the entire month of June and it overwhelmed the system," said Sue McCormick, GLWA Chief Executive Officer.

But the director of the Great Lakes Water Authority says challenges do not mean failure.

"The Conners Creek Pump Station did not fail," McCormick said. "That is a message that is out there. I want to be clear about that."

But the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller questions that assertion and is calling for an investigation of the operation of the pump station

"Yes we had a lot of rain, but guess what? Everybody knew the rain was coming and something happened at that plant that I think was a managerial breakdown," said Candice Miller.

McCormick said that during the massive rain event, some things "did not go as planned"  at some of their Pump Stations.

"The Freud Pump Station experienced two operational challenges during the rain event," McCormick said. "The first was the electrical trips on starting the third pump. We don't know what caused of the trip but we will certainly investigate that.

"The second challenge was the power supply to the station which was interrupted."

That electrical issue did lead to an issue with some pumps, she said.

"Although the pump station has six pumps available for operation, it was limited to operating three pumps."

There were also challenges at Conners Creek.

"Shortly after, the pump station lost, what we call, 'house power' - building lights, access gates, control system," McCormick said.

She said an electrician was assigned to investigate both pump stations.

"As with Freud, Conners Creek faced operational challenges, but want to reiterate that the pump station never failed," McCormick said.

Over the past several years GLWA says it's been evaluating Improvements at both pump stations.

Sue McCormick, GLWA director

Sue McCormick, GLWA director

"We have invested more than $10 million in design, construction, and improvements in recent years," she said.

Many want to know if these challenges somehow played a factor in the flooding caused by last week's rain event.

"We rely on hard data and what I described above are initial observations and they don't represent the exact cause and effect," McCormick said. "And we'll conduct a thorough investigation as we do after any major event."

An internal investigation will be conducted as well as an eventual independent review as well.