As you likely know, Michigan has access to one of the most massive water supplies in the United States. With shoreline along four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan sources over half its water from the lake system.
With all of that surface water available, it may surprise you that they take half of their supplies from groundwater sources like wells.
Obviously, Michigan has made headlines lately for some not so great news regarding their water supplies. Flint, Michigan has endured a crisis originating from the mistreatment of their supply resulting in massive lead levels entering public consumption.
The crisis in Flint led to the discovery that many of the distribution systems in Michigan (and elsewhere) are antiquated and posing a risk to the water quality.
While consuming lead has dire side effects, it rarely enters the system from the source being contaminated. Therefore, we will not focus on the issues with lead contamination from older plumbing here.
As is the case with most natural water resources, mineral and earth metal content can enter the supply and make its way into the system as hard water. Contaminants from industrial runoff is another issue many Michigan water supplies face.
Common Water Problems by City
Much of Michigan shares similar, if not identical, water supplies. Thus, many areas face the same challenges to their ability to provide high-quality water.
However, each location has its unique influences that lead to some differences in common problems with the water in the area.
The Detroit River
The Detroit River
Detroit maintains one of the largest water supply systems in the country. Featuring over 3,000 miles of pipes, you can imagine the difficulty in keeping a high level of water quality flowing to so many people.
Industry is a staple in the state of Michigan and Detroit is an industrial hub. This leads to a constant battle with industrial pollution from runoff. The massive population also contributes issues with wastewater runoff and contaminants like fertilizers.
One way to battle these types of negative influences on the water supply is with aggressive treatment. Of course, these disinfectants have their own impacts like water with poor taste.
Surface water is often alkaline, meaning Detroit residents must deal with hard water. Dry skin and limescale stains are not uncommon for those using untreated, public water in Detroit.
Grand Rapids sources its water primarily from Lake Michigan. Residents here enjoy a relatively high quality of water with few opportunities for contamination.
As water travels to treatment and then on to the tap, it does absorb non-toxic levels of mineral and metallic content. This leads to a condition of hard water, creating a headache for some.
Hard water causes physical impacts like dry skin or itchy scalps. Additionally, it can buildup on surfaces and in plumbing, which can cause major issues over time.
Similar to Grand Rapids, Warren features a single source water supply. The Detroit River provides all the water consumed by Warren residents.
Unfortunately, the Detroit River is considered susceptible to contaminants like wastewater runoff and industrial pollution. These concerns lead to aggressively treated water that can have a poor taste.
Hard water is not uncommon to those using water from a surface water source, and Warren is no exception. Consumers here often deal with dry skin and the appearance of limescale on faucets and fixtures.