By Sue Moore
Is the water from Vicksburg village wells drinkable? Residents and visitors alike have been asking questions since the troubles in Flint have been so highly publicized, according to Ken Schippers, Vicksburg village manager and head of the Department of Public Works (DPW).
“Our water has always tested at zero parts per million for lead. All the other tests we are required to perform by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have been negative since I have been working in the village the last 23 years,” Schippers said.
There are rigorous tests that Schippers must perform as head of the DPW. They are for nitrates, lead, iron, hardness, sodium, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides and any other type of organism that might creep into the unchlorinated village water system.
Every three years, Schippers knocks on the door of 10 locations in the village with a sanitized bottle for the residents to pull water samples from their kitchen faucet in the morning when no water has been used overnight. He also goes to Accro-Seal’s business location for the same test that measures lead and copper.
On a monthly basis he takes five samples from the village’s two deep wells, the hospital, the high school, the community center for bacteria. Village water is not chlorinated. He also tests the water at Indian Lake and Tobey Elementary schools.
Every five years, he tests for pesticides and herbicides in the well.
Every three months he checks the water for nitrates, nitrites, sodium, sulfate, hardness, fluoride, chloride, iron total and prep metals.
All of these test sites are set up by the DEQ and if the village wants to change them, it needs to get the agency’s permission. The village also pays for all of the tests that Schippers sends to KAR Laboratory in Kalamazoo. This averages to about $200 a month.
Schippers has gone through a rigorous training to properly test the water and become licensed by the state. “We have never had any violations. We do have hard water, but it is still within the guidelines,” he said. “We do not add any substances to the water such as fluoride, chlorine or hexametaphosphate which is meant to cut down on corrosion in lead pipes,” he said. The village pumps an average of 300,000 gallons of water daily from two wells. In the summer time it can average around 400,000 gallons a day with irrigation systems running.