NewsFlint Water Crisis


New bills call for water monitoring at schools

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2021-01-14 16:00:03-05

The Flint Water crisis has reminded everyone just how important safe drinking water is, but Flint is not the only place where there are concerns.

The city of Ann Arbor has been tracking a plume of pollutants moving in ground water, and has called on the state to do more.

In the meantime, lawmakers are introducing bills that would put schools on the front line in the effort to make sure water is safe.

Democratic Rep. Adam Zemke and Republican Sen. Rick Jones have introduced separate bills that would require schools test water.

“Recently it was reported there was lead found in schools in Dimondale, East Lansing, Ionia, and Ogemaw. This could happen anywhere. So we want to safeguard our children,” said Sen. Rick Jones, (R-24th District).

Matt Naud, Ann Arbor Environmental Coordinator, says he supports the idea of testing water in schools.  He also wants much more done to protect drinking water.

“Under state law you can leave contaminants in the ground,” said Naud. “Because we’re on municipal water we’re not being exposed to it, but that often has unintended consequences.”

He says the plume of cancer-causing 1,4-Dioxane moving in ground water under Ann Arbor is an example. 

"The groundwater contamination has expanded in Washtenaw County to an area over three miles long and one mile wide,” says the city website. "The remediation of this site is likely to take an additional 20 years or more based on Pall Corporation and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) estimates.”

The pollutant was released by a company that Pall took over.

The city has been monitoring the movement of the contamination. Right now it appears to be moving away from the city’s primary water source, Barton Pond.

“We watch it pretty vigilantly because we are concerned," said Naud.

He says on top of requiring testing at schools, lawmakers should do much more.

He would like to see legislation that empowers the DEQ to set standards for what is an unsafe level of a contaminant. Right now lawmakers have the responsibility. He says the law right now in Michigan says 85 parts per billion of 1,4-Dioxane is allowed, even though it is proven to cause cancer at levels of 3.5 parts per billion.

He also wants to see more funding go to the MDEQ, so it can do more work.