Budget woes could cut water testing

Detroit officials say lack of funding could eliminate water testing for 3 million people

DETROIT (UPI) | August 24, 2011

Officials in the Detroit area say they are running out of money for a water-testing system protecting the supplies for 3 million people.

The system monitors the St. Clair and Detroit rivers from Port Huron about 50 miles north of Detroit to Wyandotte, 10 miles to the south, checking for chemicals and oil, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday. Officials say it costs $1 million to operate but now has revenues of $200,000.

Unless additional funding is found, monitoring could stop by the end of the year, officials said.

Lorna Verona, acting district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said detectors at the Port Huron water treatment plant picked up a chemical believed to be alum or aluminum sulfate on July 15. That allowed plant operators at Port Huron and downstream to shut down water intakes, keeping the chemical out of the water supply.

"It's a good example of the system working," Verona said.

The department, treatment plant operators and officials from the Macomb and St. Clair county health departments were meeting Tuesday to discuss the funding problem.

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