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Water quality tests conducted in the City of Taylor on Monday (January 16) by an independent agency have confirmed that the community’s drinking water quality meets all the usual standards and is free of any bacterial or health-effecting contaminants (see attached report).
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Joining other communities, Mayor Rick Sollars called for independent testing by Paragon Laboratories in Livonia after customers across the Downriver region complained of foul odors and hazy water coming out of their faucets last week. The City of Taylor – like many other communities Downriver – distributes drinking water supplied by the Great Lakes Water Authority (formerly the Detroit water system). The water comes directly from GLWA’s Southwest Water Treatment Facility.
The Detroit system historically has been noted as one of the best in the country.
Taylor’s independent testing results mirrors similar tests done by other communities and the GLWA, all of which have been negative. According to all the tests, there are no signs of bacteria in the system. GLWA also monitored hardness, alkalinity, turbidity, fluoride, taste, odor and toxicity. The only issues that surfaced were taste and odor. The results by GLWA were and continue to be all up to EPA Safe Drinking Water Act guidelines.
Since the complaints surfaced in the middle of last week, the GLWA has been doing consistent testing of the water coming out of its plants. Allen Park and Woodhaven also followed suit with their own independent testing. All of the results point in the same direction: There are no health-related problems with the drinking water coming from the GLWA and being distributed by member communities.
During the past week, the GLWA did confirm what it considered short-term “aesthetic” problems within its system. It originally confirmed an increased level of “turbidity,” defined as increased sediment in the water, which would cause a haziness or discoloration. GLWA officials used chemicals to treat the turbidity – a common practice in the industry. However, the use of those chemicals caused a “sulfur-like” odor in the water. The GLWA expected that odor, as well as the haziness in the system, is dissipate 12 hours after it was introduced into the system, but the problem lingered.
At no time was the drinking water in the system a hazard to public health, according to officials. GLWA CEO Sue McCormick released a statement January 18:
“After a thorough review, GLWA has identified the principle cause of the taste and odor issue that several Downriver communities have been experiencing since late last week,” she said. “The authority has also established protocols that will prevent the issue from occurring again.”
She said the poor smell and taste was caused by a spike in the turbidity levels, possibly caused by the cleaning of several settling basins. McCormick said they stopped the cleaning process about noon January 12, but “some” water that had come from the basins was released from the facility.
According to McCormick, staff then began feeding powdered activated carbon into the system to help mitigate the issue and begin to bring relief to our customer communities. Staff also instituted an enhanced schedule of water quality testing to ensure that there is not a reoccurrence of the taste and odor issue.
Many officials who participate in the GLWA are concerned with the lack of proper communications during the past week. Communications from the GLWA to member communities and the media appeared very inconsistent and were delayed for long periods of time, making the situation appear much worse than it was. Mayor Sollars said the City of Taylor is planning to meet with officials from the GLWA to express those concerns and make sure that, should any future incidents arise, they will be handled in a much better way.
As a result of poor communications, reports and rumors ran in every direction, and were often wrongly associated with the City of Flint’s much-publicized problems. The GLWA had nothing to do with Flint’s water crisis. And none of the problems that happened in Flint – from a change in the actual water authority to changes in the water source and a lack of proper chemical treatment – ever occurred in the GLWA system.
Taylor Department of Public Services Director Keith Boc said that the city is now considering short-term future options. The GLWA has offered to “flush out” the systems of communities in the authority. While flushing out the systems might rid them of any lingering odors, the same flushing could create another set of problems, including more sediment or haziness in the water.
The City of Taylor and the GLWA maintains committed to providing the highest level of water quality to its residents.
Check back with www.cityoftaylor.com for any future updates on this situation.