City scrutiny of water quality the right move

Being proactive when it comes to local water quality seems to be on the rise, and that’s good for the community.

The city of Marquette decided to have testings performed after elevated levels of lead were discovered at Northern Michigan University and in Marquette Area Public Schools earlier this year. Those situations basically have been remedied.

In the city’s case, lead and copper testings were conducted in September and October on 49 water supply fixtures at various buildings, with elevated lead levels exceeding the recommended limits detected in four fixtures. No elevated copper levels exceeding the recommended limits in drinking water were found.

The Marquette City Commission recently approved $15,000 worth of professional engineering services to look into potential improvements for corrosion control of the city’s water supply.

The testings were performed at the city’s request, even though lead and copper testing at city facilities is not mandated by the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

City officials believe they should be proactive. After all, who wants another Flint? That city still is dealing with the aftereffects of lead leaching from lead water pipes into the drinking water because of insufficient water treatment.

The thinking is that it’s prudent for the city of Marquette to deal with water issues before they become a major problem and threaten the community’s health.

Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc. — the engineering firm conducting the city’s analysis — was to prepare a summary that could include recommendations regarding current treatment practices, which the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would have to approve.

Chances are the city never will have completely pristine water, nor should it necessarily be that way. As stated in the city’s 2017 annual drinking water report, several naturally occurring minerals might actually improve the taste and nutritional value — at low levels, of course.

The Michigan State Drinking Water Act states the maximum contaminant level for lead in a water supply is 15 parts per billion, although the new lead standard will be 12 ppb by 2025. However, the World Health Organization currently has a stricter limit at 10 ppb.

How harmful is lead? Too much lead can cause serious health problems, particularly for children and pregnant women.

It’s best not to find out how serious those problems can be, so we encourage the city of Marquette to continue to be proactive when it comes to the quality of its drinking water.