Saline To Host Drinking Water Town Hall

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Saline City Hall will be hosting a public town hall to allow public officials to face the public’s water quality concerns, November 5. Saline has had an on-again, off-again problem with cloudy water in recent weeks. The city maintains that this is an aesthetic issue and that the water is not dangerous, but the public will be able to bring their concerns to public officials in the council chambers between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., on the first Saturday of September.

“Based upon routine testing and state regulations, our City’s drinking water is clean and safe – we remain committed to meeting and exceeding all standards for environmental quality,” City Manager Colleen O’Toole said in a press release from the city.

Social media in Saline has been awash with concerned citizens like Kerstin Papke. Papke moved her family into the city recently and said that Mayor Brian Marl called her “silly” in a Facebook comment when she expressed concern. Marl told the Sun Times News that “I said her remarks were silly. I didn’t call her silly.”

Papke has since spoken with a city councilor on the issue and feels “so so” on the quality of the water, now that water hardness and chlorine have been ruled out at her tap. O’Toole introduced a free testing scheme – where the city provided free kits to residences and businesses to test the water – both to reassure the public and gather data for city staff. Papke said she is investing in further testing on her own.

“Saline city officials are saying that it is because of sediment build up. The mayor said that every municipality does these flushings once or twice a year, and that these flushings usually cause the water to be dark. Following that logic, I should have experienced dark water once or twice a year, because I’ve always lived in cities,” Papke said.

Marl has told this newspaper repeatedly that he thought that the city’s mistake was in waiting too long to flush sediment out of the system, as it does about twice a year. Marl sand that since the flushing had finished Thursday morning, the cloudiness issue should subside within 24 to 48 hours.

According to the press release, water quality analysis will soon be done by third party entities. The Washtenaw County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy have both been invited to attend the meeting. Marl said the city will either rely on them for third party testing or any other entity that the county or state level authorities recommend.

The meeting will be streamed over both Zoom and the city’s Facebook page. Any citizen questions or comments submitted before the meeting will be read after the formal presentations are completed, according to the press release.

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