How Michiana water departments keep water safe

LA PORTE, Ind. -

Where does our water come from?

“There’s a tower,” said one La Porte resident.

“Well it’s from the water...sewer, septic, recycling plant,” another said.

Of the 22,000 residents who rely on the city’s drinking water many are unsure where it comes from and some have no idea whatsoever.

But Wednesday ABC57 got a look inside the city of La Porte Water Department.

“We’re an old community. We’re one of the oldest water systems in the state of Indiana. We started up in 1870. So there are lead pipes and there is lead plumbing in our system, but because the water is not corrosive, we’re well below the action level,” Director of City of La Porte Water Department Todd Taylor said.

To start, he said the city of La Porte gets its water from deep in the ground.

About 15 feet down to be exact.

Taylor said ground water is the best source is this area because nearby lakes are small.

“Ground water obviously, is kind of naturally filtered by the ground. And we just make it a little better removing the minerals such as iron and manganese that would stain the water fixtures,” Taylor said.

First the water is pumped from the wells to the water plants.

Next, the water goes through a process aeration.

Then the water is treated with chlorine and fluoride for disinfection, in addition the anti corrosion agent polyphosphate, which lines water mains to prevent leaching of lead and seen in Flint Michigan.

“All water utilities, up in Michigan, La Porte, around Indiana, are required to test for lead and copper. Now none of us, very few of us, have lead in the source water. So the lead source is the plumbing system if the water is corrosive to the plumbing,” Taylor explained.  

Taylor said thousands of tests are done each year in La Porte to ensure the safety of the water.

South Bend and Elkhart tell me they are no different.

They too use ground water and are confident in their safety practices.

“We do not have any lead concerns in Elkhart with our water. The source of the ground water is very safe. And with the additive of polyphosphate, lead and copper which we are required to test every three years, we come back and pass we flying colors,” Laura Kolo , the Utility Services Manager for Elkhart Public Works, said.

And if you want to be extra cautious...

“Every day if they’re concerned about it, run the tap for 20 or 30 seconds. And that takes all the water that’s been sitting in the pipes and dumps it and then you’re getting fresh water from the mains,” Taylor advised.

Taylor said the city of La Porte treats one billion gallons of water each year.

Sounds like a lot?

He said bigger cities, like neighboring Chicago pump that much every day.

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