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Northeast Michigan officials provide tools to reduce pollutants in water systems

Speakers from the Forum from left to right: Brandon Schroeder, Kevin Prevost, Charlie Doan, and Teresa Salveta. Mary Alice Comar was the moderator of the forum.
Alpena Community College
Speakers from the Water Safety Forum from left to right: Brandon Schroeder, Kevin Prevost, Charlie Doan, and Teresa Salveta. Mary Alice Comar (far right) was the moderator of the forum.

Alpena Community College recently hosted an event for a group of public officials who spoke about current water safety challenges in northeast Michigan.

The biggest challenge mentioned was non-point sources of pollution, how it infiltrates public water systems and the effects it can have on the human body.

Non-point source pollution typically enters water systems when runoff from rain or melting snow moves across the ground and picks up small amounts of natural or man-made pollutants. The pollutants are then carried into storm filtration systems, where the water is filtered through screens and other pollutant removal technologies. The water is then directed into local water systems, such as like lakes, rivers, or streams.

Examples of natural or man-made pollutants include nutrients, sediments, oil, gas and every day chemicals found in household items.

Teresa Salveta, an environmental quality analyst with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, said finding ways to reduce runoff will be key in reducing pollutants from entering public water systems.

"Instead of installing a new driveway, maybe having that be a gravel driveway rather than a paved driveway. Or use permeable papers, which are still a form of pavement, but it allows water to infiltrate through it." said Salveta.

Salveta also said adding structures such as green roofs, applying less salt or fertilizer, avoiding pouring chemicals or medicines in the toilet and maintaining vehicles to stop any oil or gas leaks are some of the other ways people can help reduce pollutants from entering water systems.

"There's a lot of knowledge and expertise within our agency and with local groups that are working in this area, and I just encourage folks to educate themselves and reach out to the experts," said Salveta. "We have a lot of information on our websites, and a lot of printed information, and you know we're here to help."

Scott Rechlin is a production assistant and on-air host for WCMU
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