Letter to the editor: Reflections on the Flint, Mich., water crisis

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Clarifying pools at the Perry Water Works water treatment plant remove hardness and some metals from the well water supplying Perry residents' taps..

To the editor:

The drinking water supply for the city of Flint, Mich., was allowed to become so corrosive that lead was leached from the plumbing of many homes, poisoning the residents who consumed or bathed in the water.

As a water utility professional, I am appalled by the lack of care and the dishonesty displayed by local, state and federal officials during this crisis. I have a hard time believing that the public water supply for an American city could be so poorly managed in this day and age.

Let me assure you that the city of Perry, Iowa’s water supply meets or exceeds all state and federal regulations and is vigorously tested to ensure its safety.

Problems with the water quality do occur from time to time in any drinking water system. In Perry we see an increase in the nitrite levels each year as the temperature rises. Water Works staff members closely monitor the nitrite levels and take action when needed to keep nitrite contamination below the maximum contaminant level of 1.0 part per million.

We also have water main breaks that sometimes cause concern about bacterial contamination, and a boil-water order is issued for the affected area of town.

Water system professionals do many things during the course of a workday. They operate the water treatment plant, read meters, fix leaks, prepare and send out water bills, repair equipment, manage budgets, assist customers, maintain fire hydrants, exercise water main valves and other duties.

None of these activities is as important as assuring that the water that is supplied to your tap is clean and safe, yet all these activities are required in order to so assure you.

All public water systems in the U.S. are required to produce an annual report on the quality of the drinking water they supplied in the previous year. I encourage everyone to read and understand this report for your community. All of the water-quality testing that has been done is summarized in this report.

Perry’s water quality reports for 2012 – 2014 can be found at the city of Perry website: http://www.perryia.org/perry-water-works.html.

The 2015 report will be available soon.

Hank Schmidt
Perry Water Works Superintendent

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