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Downriver water quality concerns prompt testing

The Detroit News

Water quality concerns in Downriver communities prompted the Great Lakes Water Authority to test the taps there and at least one Wayne County municipality to conduct its own review, officials said Monday.

In a letter to residents of their districts last weekend, state Reps. Frank Liberati and Erika Geiss acknowledged water quality issues reported since Thursday in Allen Park, Dearborn Heights, east Taylor and other Downriver communities.

They also noted how some residents might worry that the situation appeared similar to the Flint water crisis. Lead contamination was found there and a Legionnaires' outbreak resulting in 12 deaths has been linked to the Genesee County city’s transition from the Detroit water system to Flint River water in 2014.

“While we have been provided with statements from the GLWA that the issue is aesthetic, we understand that some residents are still experiencing sulphur-smelling water quality issues,” they wrote in the letter, which also was signed by Taylor City Coucilman Alex Garza and Mayor Rick Sollars. “We understand the heightened concerns residents have regarding water quality since the water emergency in Flint. ... And as such, we take the concerns of our residents seriously and want you to feel safe.”

The leaders advised Downriver residents with concerns about water from their taps to run the water for several minutes and to use bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth.

Over the weekend, Woodhaven Patricia Odette announced on her Facebook page that the city would complete its own testing of the water supply. Samples were sent to an independent laboratory, she said in a post Monday.

“They have found the samples to be ABSENT of E Coli and Coliform Bacteria,” Odette wrote. “We are still waiting to hear more from Detroit Water and will keep you posted when we do! We will stay on it I promise!”

The issue prompted the Great Lakes Water Authority to issue a statement Monday.

“Taste and odor are associated with a spike in turbidity in the source water,” COO Cheryl Porter said, adding the authority expanded its testing as well as increased the number of samples taken at the Southwest Water Treatment Facility serving the communities affected.

Results were negative for bacteria and showed the water meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards, according to the statement.

Testing for volatile organic chemicals “indicated nothing unusual about the source or tap water,” but more results “indicate the water meets water quality criteria except for taste and odor,” Porter said. “As taste and odor complaints increased, the treatment plant began feeding powdered activated carbon to mitigate taste and odor issues.”

Meanwhile, the authority is “testing water for treatment 24/7 to ensure water quality,” Porter added. “... all downriver communities were tested last Thursday and/or Friday. With an increase in calls, additional samples are being collected in the distribution system in those communities that have had an increase in the number of complaints. Concerned residents should contact their local municipality with questions or to report an issue.”