Grand Rapids answers water safety questions


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While the drinking water crisis in Flint continues, Grand Rapids officials are working to ease concerns that something similar could happen here.

Tuesday, they released answers to questions residents may have about the city’s water.

“We want them to know that our water is safe and they can be assured of that,” said JoEllen Thompson, the Grand Rapids water system manager.

Thompson, along with Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong, helped to put together the questions and answers. The biggest question was how residents can know the water is safe.

“We have a significant testing protocol that assures we have high quality water that  at all times,” DeLong said.

The test are conducted by different agencies — some in-house and some, like the test for lead, are done by independent labs. Results are then published in a water report that is sent out to residents each year. The latest results from 2013 show lead levels at 2.5 parts per billion, far below the safe level of 15 parts per billion.

Also included in the report is the range of detections — the very lowest and the highest found in water tested. For 2013, the sample with the highest level was 12 parts per billion, which is still below the safe level.

Lead in water comes from two sources: the lead-lined service lines or old copper plumbing inside homes that has lead in the soldered joints.

Thompson said that since the early 1990s, Grand Rapids has added a blend of chemicals to the water that reduces its corrosiveness and puts a coat on pipes to prevent them from breaking down. The chemicals are safe to digest, officials say.

“We have all the measures in place to ensure our water will be of high of quality for the foreseeable future,” DeLong said.

Grand Rapids has been using Lake Michigan as its water source since the 1940s.

It’s worth nothing that while lead may not be a concern in Grand Rapids’ water, but it’s still an issue in the city.——Online: Grand Rapids water quality Q&AFind certified lead professionals and contractorsCenters for Disease Control on lead exposure preventionInside coverage of the Flint water crisisHow you can help the people of Flint

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