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Problems We Found With Detroit's Drinking Water

Problems We Found With Detroit's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Detroit, Michigan drinking and tap water, we collected water quality test data from their Consumer Confidence Report and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced their water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Detroit’s drinking water.

Where Does Detroit Source Its Drinking Water?

Detroit sources its drinking water from three different surface water intakes. Two of these intakes are from the Detroit River and one is from Lake Huron. The water is then treated by one of five treatment facilities operated by the Great Lakes Water Authority. The report also stated that Detroit Water and Sewage Department works with other government organizations to determine susceptibility to contamination and watershed management.

Lead In Detroit’s Drinking Water

In recent years, Detroit has had a problem with lead in drinking water. Lead enters Detroit's Tap Water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing.10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 4 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. Additionally, these measurements may not be a true indication of your tap water if your home has lead plumbing or lead fixtures. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with loose EPA standards, but could become contaminated once it enters older infrastructure. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.

Chromium 6 In Detroit’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, Detroit's Tap Water has had a major problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. The report found an average concentration of 0.13 parts per billion, and detected levels reaching as high as 0.24 parts per billion, which is 12 times higher than the level determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium 6 compounds can cause acute respiratory disease, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death.

Disinfection Byproducts In Detroit’s Drinking Water

Disinfection Byproducts are contaminants that are created when chlorine-based disinfectants are used to treat incoming water. The disinfectant then reacts with normal organic matter, creating disinfection byproducts or DBPs. DBPs are split into two categories: TTHMs which has a Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion and HAA5 which has a Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion. In the 2017 report, Detroit reported that TTHMs levels ranged from 11 to 79 parts per billion and had an average concentration of 37.5 parts per billion. In regards to HAA5, Detroit reported that the levels ranging from 5 parts per billion to 26 parts per billion, and averaged 13.5 parts per billion.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Detroit’s tap water quality, feel free to visit to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water 
5 Things You Should Know About Chromium 6
Disinfection Byproducts In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know

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  • Analies Dyjak