Michigan City Residents Concerned About Their Drinking Water

Jan. 15, 2019

Residents of Adrian, Mich., say they have been complaining to the city for months about the taste and smell of the water

Residents of Adrian, Mich., are raising concerns about their drinking water. According to Michigan Radio, residents say they have been complaining to the city for months about the taste and smell of the water.

A group of residents obtained independent lab results showing cyanobacteria in some drinking water samples, according to Michigan Radio. However, the city says its tests show the water is safe.

Director of Helix Biolab Tom Prychitko, the lab that did the testing, says the difference in results is because Adrian is testing only for the presence of microcystin. Microcystin is one of the most common toxins produced by cyanobacteria. According to Michigan Radio, neither the city nor the lab found the toxin in the city’s water.

Prychitko used a laboratory test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that can detect small quantities of DNA. Using PCR, he tested for cyanobacterial DNA and more specific microcystin was negative.

According to Michigan Radio, microcystin is the most familiar toxin of concern that can be found in drinking water. There are a number of other dangerous toxins that cyanobacteria can produce, including cylindrospermopsin, anatoxins, and saxitoxins.  

"I would be cautious if it were me. I would be cautious about drinking the tap water," Prychitko said to Michigan Radio. "I would be cautious in looking to purchase a bottled water alternative."

Adrian draws some of its drinking water from Lake Adrian, according to Michigan Radio. According to officials with Adrian utilities, the lake is susceptible to algal growth. Officials said the bad taste and odor some residents report to a reaction between the organic matter in the algae and the chlorine added as a disinfectant to the water.

Brittany Dulbs is a resident and an organizer for a group of citizens concerned about water quality in Adrian. Dulbs has collected dozens of reports from area residents who say there is a problem with their water. She wants city and state authorities to take residents' complaints seriously.

"I would just really like them to upgrade their plant. I think that's their best bet. And also from the state side, I would love to see some regulation be passed for cyanobacteria and its toxins," Dulbs said to Michigan Radio.

According to Michigan Radio, Michigan currently has no formal standards in place to regulate cyanobacteria in drinking water.