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Officials Need Funds To Monitor Drinking Water

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DETROIT (AP) - Officials are looking for ways to fund a drinking water monitoring system that serves millions of people in a number of southeastern Michigan counties, and a lack of money could shut it down by year’s end.

The cost to have the monitoring system in Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers fully operational is estimated at about $1 million a year. The system currently is running on about $210,000 a year.

If the system is shut down, the water will be monitored less frequently and for fewer chemicals.

Water treatment plant operators, Macomb and St. Clair county health department officials and representatives of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality planned to meet Tuesday to discuss ways to keep the monitoring system running.

The water system stretches from Port Huron to Wyandotte, and looks for chemicals and oil products from undetected spills or contamination at 13 intakes at water treatment plants. Water from that area goes to millions of people in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.

Federal funds helped get the system off the ground in 2006.

Spills include one July 15 that was detected at the Port Huron plant, where chemical discharge of suspected alum or aluminum sulfate was found. The chemical didn’t get into drinking water, said Laura Verona, MDEQ acting district supervisor for the resource management division.

“It’s a good example of the system working,” she said.

State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Richmond Township , who represents parts of Macomb and St. Clair counties, said there probably is no funding at the state level, but she is looking for ways to keep the system going. She said it’s key to ensuring good health.

“You have to have good quality of water to have good quality of life,” LaFontaine said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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