By Trilby Becker
In May, the City of Ann Arbor launched a website to help residents track municipal water quality issues (qualitywatermatters.org). The municipal water utility, which already provides annual information about water quality to customers, began reporting monthly information due to recent concerns about PFAS, dioxane, and other issues. The site also provides information on hydrant flushing schedules and water and sewer rates.
Sarah Page, Ph.D., is Ann Arbor’s Drinking Water Quality Manager, reviewing the analysis of thousands of daily measurements to ensure Ann Arbor’s water is safe to drink. To deal with PFAS pollution in the water the city draws from the Huron River, about $1 million has been spent installing new carbon filters at the water treatment plant. The latest tests conducted this month show total detected PFAS in the city’s treated drinking water down to 3.9 parts per trillion of contaminant, from a high of 88.1 ppt last October.
Despite recent reductions, the list of contaminants can be alarming:
- Microbial Contaminants such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife
- Inorganic contaminants such as salts and metals, which can be naturally occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining or farming
- Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff and residential uses
- Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, such as from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff and septic systems
- Radioactive contaminants which can be naturally occurring or resulting from oil and gas production and mining activities
In 2020, the City will embark on a facilities plan that will evaluate alternatives and develop cost estimates for improvements at the water treatment plant to address aging basins infrastructure. Renovations to Ann Arbor’s water treatment plant will cost between $80 and $90 million dollars.
To read the City of Ann Arbor 2018 Water Quality Report, go to: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/water-treatment/PublishingImages/Pages/default/water_quality_report_2018.pdf