CADILLAC — After a couple of calls Wednesday from people reporting brown water coming from their faucets, low water pressure, or no water pressure, it became apparent that something was wrong somewhere underneath Sixth Street.

Cadillac Director of Utilities Jeffrey Dietlin said a break occurred in an old cast-iron water main around 11 a.m. Shortly after that, the city issued a boil-water notice for the entire city, as bacteria may have entered the water system.

Dietlin said they don’t yet know what caused the break, although it’s possible it was due to deterioration over time, or even something as simple as a rock rubbing against the pipe for many years and eventually creating a fracture.

They won’t know until Friday whether or not bacteria entered the system. Dietlin said per state and Environmental Protection Agency standards, they have to perform two tests to ensure there is no bacteria in the system before they lift the boil-water notice.

Anyone intending to consume or cook with city water should boil it first to kill any potential bacteria. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water.

Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice. Consuming the bacteria can make a person extremely ill, especially someone with a compromised immune system.

Dietlin said there’s no need to boil the water if you’re just using it to take a shower.

After the break occurred, Dietlin said the pressure in that part of the system dropped dramatically as water rushed out of the fracture and into the ground. So much water was lost that it lowered the overall level in the city water tower, although at no time did they lose total water pressure.

It’s possible bacteria entered the system when air entered through the end of someone’s service line after water pressure in the system dropped.

Crews have isolated the break and service pressure for most users throughout the city was restored as of Wednesday afternoon. Dietlin estimated they’d have the line completely fixed by Wednesday night.

If the test comes back positive for bacteria on Friday, Dietlin said they’ll begin flushing out and chlorinating the system.

The city will notify the public when tests show no bacteria and residents no longer need to boil their water.

clamphere@cadillacnews.com | 775-NEWS (6397)