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Manistique water woes continue

By Ashley Hoholik
MANISTIQUE - The city of Manistique has once again exceeded the maximum number of allowable trihalomethanes (THM) present in the local water supply.

The higher levels of THM, a chemical by-product of the disinfectants used to eradicate contaminants in the water, requires a public notice which will be issued by the city. According to John E. Clark, environmental quality analyst for the Department of Environmental Quality's Water Bureau, the city is required mail or hand deliver notices to all city water customers within 30 days of the violation occurrence.

According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the city plans to take action on the matter. "We do have that violation (THM) that keeps showing up and that is why we are upgrading the water treatment plant," said Aldrich. "We will produce the memo, DEQ will look at it and then we will send it out."

Aldrich pointed out the city is in the process of obtaining the funds to update the water treatment plant and avoid problems like these in the future. In the meantime, Aldrich reassures residents the water is safe and they do not need to seek alternative water supplies.

"We always want to stress to the customers that this is the same water we have been providing for years, and that if it wasn't safe the DEQ would not allow us to supply it."

In an Oct. 2 letter to the city, Clark wrote, "You are required to provide the notice as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days after the system learns of the violation. If notice is posted, it must remain in place for as long as the violation or situation persists, but always a minimum of seven days."

The levels of Manistique's THM are currently running at an annual average of 90 micrograms/L, above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 80 micrograms/L. According to the Environmental Protection Agency Web site, higher levels of this by-product is due to the disinfectants that are utilized to inactivate or kill disease causing organisms.

The EPA explains that, "Disinfection byproducts are formed when disinfectants used in a water treatment react with bromide and/or natural organic matter (i.e., decaying vegetation) present in the source water. Different disinfectants produce different types or amounts of disinfection byproducts."

Although the disinfection treatments are needed to limit other potentially harmful organisms, the EPA points out that, "Current disinfection methods used in water systems can inactivate pathogens, but can also form disinfection byproducts that may be harmful to human health." The agency also points out that, though there is no definite link, the carcinogenic THM has long been a cancer-causing suspect.

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