A nonpartisan group called With Many Hands is organizing a “a community-wide meeting” for Monday, October 9 at 7 p.m. at The Huss Project (1008 8th Street) to discuss concerns over the quality, safety, and price of the City of Three Rivers’ water.
In a press release issued by organizer Michael Evans, the group says, “Citizens are looking for immediate relief from the double shocks of higher water and sewer bills and recent warnings from the city not to drink the water or use it for cooking.” Three Rivers officials did advise citizens to not to use “hot water” for drinking, preparing food, cooking or preparing baby formula, and to use a filter for lead reduction.
In August, the City of Three Rivers announced it found more lead service lines while conducting a test of tap water in homes for lead and copper in accordance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. In the first round of collecting first and fifth liter samples from 47 homes, six homes had results over 15 parts per billion (ppb), the federal limit for lead contamination.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) evaluates compliance with an action level based on the 90th percentile of lead and copper results collected in each round of sampling.
The lead 90th percentile for the city’s water supply is 19 ppb, which exceeds the action level of 15 ppb. The “action level” is a measure of corrosion control effectiveness; it is not a health-based standard. The goal for lead in drinking water is 0 ppb, and there is no safe level of lead in the blood. Lead can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells, and is especially dangerous for children, infants and fetuses.
Three Rivers resident Laura Armstrong is quoted in the release as saying, “Why are we paying more for polluted water that we can’t drink? I feel like the city is hiding something from us. It is ironic, on the same day I received a water bill with the new higher rates, I also got the notice not to drink the water.”
Resident Maurice Kelly said they are looking for relief from the cost of buying bottled water. “My daughter developed a skin rash on her face, arms, and legs,” they said. “Our doctor told us not to use the water for baths or showers. We now have to buy gallons of bottled water every month.”
*culture is not optional and The Huss Project, while providing public space for the meeting, is not directly involved with the movement, according to *cino Executive Director Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma.
Additional information regarding lead, using filters, and the health effects of lead is available on the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency website, or on the Michigan Lead Safe website.
Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor and publisher of Watershed Voice.