News Briefs: Milwaukee Tests Pipes in Advance of Switching to Lake Michigan Water​

In this week's water and wastewater news, the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, is looking to avoid the same mistakes Flint made during its switch to Lake Michigan for source water

To avoid making the same mistakes as Flint, Michigan, the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, is taking precautions almost five years in advance of its planned transition to using Lake Michigan for its water supply.

Plans are in the works for the city to distribute water sourced from Lake Michigan to Milwaukee by 2023, but there are concerns about the switch causing lead to leach out of pipes in the distribution system.

That’s why workers are mimicking the conditions of the switch in a test. They removed sections of copper pipe with lead joints from area residences and hooked them to iron service lines at Grange Pumping Station, where they will be monitored for the next eight months.

Michigan Town Analyzing Fish After Finding Elevated PFOS Levels

Elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) recently were detected in the Bronson (Michigan) Wastewater Treatment Plant’s effluent, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, and fish living in discharge waters are now being tested to ensure they’re safe to consume.

The DEQ says surface water and fish have been collected for testing from Swan Creek, Long Lake, Palmer Lake and the St. Joseph River downstream of Sturgeon Lake.

The department also is working with the treatment facility to identify the source of the issue and address it.

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Address PFAS Contamination

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), and Gary Peters (D-Michigan) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to address contamination from chemicals containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The PFAS Detection Act provides the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) with $45 million to develop new advanced technologies to detect PFAS and then requires USGS to conduct nationwide sampling for PFAS in the environment. 

“People across Michigan exposed to PFAS-contaminated water and soil are living with incredible uncertainty about the impact of these chemicals on the health and wellbeing of their families,” says Sen. Stabenow. “There is so much we do not know, and it is imperative that we get answers soon.” 

 There are more than 3,000 chemicals containing PFAS but less than 30 of these substances can be detected using current technology. The data collected by the USGS could be used to better assess the likely health and environmental impacts of exposure to PFAS chemicals and determine how to address contamination moving forward.


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