Op-Ed: A Penny for Your Thoughts, A Nickel for Clean Water

photo source: Creative Commons, cropped and colored, P199 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:St._Clair_River#/media/File:Algonac_MI.JPG

We’ve heard a lot in the news recently about drinking water. What’s in it, what’s not? We know that clean drinking water is important for our health, our children’s ability to grow and learn, and the safety of our infrastructure systems. But what are we doing to protect it?

In my opinion, not enough.

The state has given SEMCOG, a southeast Michigan regional organization, the money to buy water monitoring equipment for all of the drinking water intakes from the top of the St. Clair River down to Monroe. The maintenance to keep this system running would only cost a few cents per household per year. Pennies per house to protect the 14 drinking water intakes used by 3 to 4 million people.

With a fully operating system, water intakes could see if any changes in the water or any accidental additives are a threat to public consumption.

Working together, upstream plants could warn the others of any possible problems in advance. That means if the river or lake water is too acidic and could erode the pipes or if a Canadian company spills chemicals in the lake – we’ll all know about it immediately.

I’m a fiscal conservative. I believe that my job as a county commissioner is to make sure that county residents are getting the best value for their tax dollars by streamlining necessary processes and eliminating unnecessary and ineffective ones. But when it comes to protecting our drinking water, I’d call this a no-brainer.

I hope that other local politicians are open to working across county borders and party lines to make sure this happens. Michigan residents deserve bipartisan problem solving and this seems like a perfect opportunity to start.

Phil Kraft is a Macomb County Commissioner (R – Chesterfield Twp, District 8)