By Janae Fear, staff writer

Water quality has been on the minds of everyone, due to the ongoing crisis in Flint. The crisis has brought awareness to residents, as well as city officials. While the city of Owosso has assured its residents that the water is safe, some people may still have concerns. What can you do to protect your family and yourself?

Lead typically enters drinking water through corrosion of plumbing materials, according to the EPA. This lead may be in the pipes in your home (lead pipes are dull grey and soft enough to be scratched), in your plumbing fixtures, the main line to the curb stop (the city’s responsibility) or the main line from the house to the curb stop (the homeowner’s responsibility).

The city of Owosso uses six groundwater wells to supply the city’s water. According to the city, the water treatment process consists of lime softening for hardness reduction and iron removal, dual-media filtration and chlorine disinfection. Fluoride is added as a dental health measure, increasing the natural concentration from 0.4 parts per million to 0.6 parts per million. On average, the city treats and delivers 1,500,000 gallons of water per day from the 24-hour operating plant. The city tests 30 homes during each round of sampling, which is conducted every three years. The next sampling year will be 2017.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Lead and Copper Rule in 1991 that set the “action level” at 15 parts per billion for lead concentration in drinking water. Owosso’s reported 2014 lead level of 11 parts per billion falls below that federal threshold, and much below the reported levels of Flint’s water.

If you have concerns, you may want to consider having your water tested. If you live in an older home or on a street that has not had major repair in a long time (the city typically replaces water mains during road construction), testing may be an option. There are numerous ways to obtain testing including picking up a kit from home improvement stores for under $10, following the instructions and then sending it in to a lab for an additional $40 with results returned within a week. Both the city and the county can assist with testing as well.

General precautions that concerned residents may take include running your water until it runs cold before using it and only using cold water for cooking as lead dissolves more easily in hot water as it comes through the plumbing system.

City officials have encouraged residents with questions to contact Public Utilities Director Glenn Chinavare, who can be reached during business hours at (989) 725-0555. A limited number of free lead and copper tests are available.

Owosso Water Concerns? was last modified: February 8th, 2016 by Karen Elford