MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WZMQ) – Every year, water treatment facilities in Michigan release consumer confidence water quality reports that break down the different contaminants found in drinking water. Earlier this year, KI Sawyer mailed it’s yearly report to residents which stirred up a lot of conversation on social media about its contents.
In 2018, low levels of PFOS contaminants from aircraft fire extinguishers were found in one of the four municipal wells at KI Sawyer. The former base now tests for PFAS yearly, per Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy regulation, but its presence on this years report stirred up concern from the sawyer community.
Water and Wastewater Department Supervisor at KI Sawyer Nicholas Hautamaki said everything on their consumer confidence report shows that all levels are well below the maximum contaminant levels set by the EPA and EGLE, and that the water at KI Sawyer is safe to drink.
Other factors like E. coli, fluoride, chlorine, or PH are tested on a daily basis, while others are tested biweekly, quarterly, monthly, or annually. There’s a whole host of things to test for and a set schedule. Director of Municipal Utilities for the city of Marquette Mark O’Neill said though there’s a difference between the ground water facility at KI Sawyer and the surface water facility in Marquette, the maximum contaminant levels and testing schedules are the same, and are set to make sure changes are caught quickly.
“We’re putting it out there, anything that we detect in our water we have to put on that water quality report.” O’Neill said. “To let you know what is in your water, and where it’s at and what’s the acceptable level.”
Treatment plants work with state agencies everyday to ensure there are no unsafe levels of contaminants making its way into drinking water. The data collected at the treatment plant is double checked by analysts at the state level. O’Neill says the quality report received by consumers is the cumulation of months of testing and double checking done locally and by the state.
Hautamaki also emphasized that the maximum contaminant limit has safety factors built in that are much lower than anything that would cause health problems. Daily tests tend to be measured in parts per million, or billion, but at KI Sawyer, contaminants like PFAS are measured in parts per trillion (PPT). Just one PPT is equivalent to one drop of water in 10 Olympic sized swimming pools. O’Neill said when you start getting down to those small of particles then you’ll start to detect contaminates, but it doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous.
Both treatment centers encourage residents to contact them with any questions about consumer quality reports. KI Sawyers water department can be reached at (906) 346-3137. The Marquette Water Treatment Facility can be contacted at 906-228-0488 or firstname.lastname@example.org