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Manistee Public Works Among Many Local Agencies Testing for Safe Water

"It’s a lot easier to prevent water from getting contaminated than to deal with it once it’s been tainted."

The water crisis in Flint, has communities in Michigan concerned about the safety of the water they drink.

Just how safe is the water supply in Northern Michigan communities, and how is it monitored?

Important questions after Flint’s water became contaminated with lead when the city switched from Detroit’s water to the Flint River as a way to save money.

Elevated blood lead levels were found in some of the city’s children.

Governor Rick Snyder has released hundreds of e-mails showing how much he knew about the severity of the lead-tainted water.

9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Ian Oliver have more on how one community tests their water for lead and other harmful contaminants.

It’s tonight’s top story.


Testing for lead contamination is a careful process that’s a top priority.

Drinking safe, clean water is essential to our lives.

That’s why the City of Manistee, among many others, studies their water closely.

"The water quality and the lead issues in the city of Flint have become not just local news but state news and federal news," says Jeff Mikula, Manistee Department of Public Works director. "In Manistee, we wanted to get out ahead of that."

Pure water, safe for consumption…

It’s what Manistee DPW Director Jeff Mikula aims to protect in his community.

"It’s something that we test for regularly, something that gets submitted to the state of Michigan," Mikula says. "The water operators take the quality of this water very seriously in our community."

Due to low lead and copper levels, the testing now takes place every three years.

It’s done carefully, as lead is almost everywhere.

"In all water systems, there is lead," Mikula says. "We do about 20 tests. The results of the last round of testing in 2014, we had 17 that had no detect whatsoever and then we had three tests that had below three-parts per billion."

In 2014, Manistee’s water tested at 2 parts-per-billion for lead…13 parts under the Action Level.

Compare that to Flint’s highest level….13,000.

“Lead is measured in parts-per-billion. One drop of water per one billion drops of water. Action can be as little as public education to, ‘Hey, you may want to look at your indoor plumbing,’ to ‘Maybe we need to look at our filtering system in our own wells,’" says Bruce Banks, lead water operator for the City of Manistee. "So we would discuss with the DEQ what kind of action we may take."

Banks says water testing is of the highest priorities… for good reason.

"I think it’s extremely important to make sure you always have a quality potable water system safe for the customers of the city here," Banks says. "Without it, we’re not going to last long."

Drinking water test results are public information.

A complete list of County DPW or Water Department pages with this information can be found below: