Michigans Thumb, in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, is a region and a peninsula so named because the Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten. ThumbWind focus’s many of its stories on Michigan’s Thumb region.
The lumbering era in Michigan’s Upper Thumb from 1860-1880 resulted in booming towns all along the shoreline. Sebewaing was no exception. While it did not benefit from proximity of being on Lake Huron like Sand Beach, (later named Harbor Beach), or having a deep river outflow like Caseville, it’s historical spot as a rich hunting area by native Americans and natural outflow to Saginaw Bay by the Sebewaing River predestined it as a natural gathering spot.
While researching another topic. I ran across these rare pictures taken in the Sebewaing river area in the late 1800’s. I was surprised such large ships could enter as the early plat maps show only a narrow river entrance into the town. It turns out that Sebewaing was a bit of a shipbuilding and repair site. It’s yet another bit of history to savor. If only for a moment.
Schooner Viola in Sebewaing harbor. Source: Ralph K. Roberts
Schooner G.R. DURKEE, 1887, attributed to being taken in Sebewaing. (Doubtful) Dowling Collection, University of Detroit – Mercy
Steambarge J.C. Liken 1873, taken in Sebewaing. Source: Ralph K. Roberts
Online reports from WNEM and other news outlets have reported that recent tests of Caseville, Michigan’s water supply showed excessive levels of Trihalomethine. Trihalomethanes are formed as a by-product when chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. Trihalomethanes forced the first water safety regulations to be issued after passage of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.
Chemical Byproduct in Water System Seen in 2016 Testing
Caseville said they are seeing 2017 average test results at of Trihalomethine at 88 parts per billion. Caseville’s 2016 Water Report showed measurements of Trihalomethine ranging from 40 to 100 parts per billion. Four tests were conducted in 2016 with an overall average at 74 parts per billion. The safety standard is 80 parts per billion.
We spoke with Troy Hartz, Superintendent of the Caseville Water Plant. Caseville’s water supply comes from Saginaw Bay. He noted that the measurements in August have the highest level of Trihalomethine due to the warmer water from the lake. Hartz noted that the Michigan DEQ informed him that there are other Michigan water systems who draw surface water from lakes who are also experiencing the high Trihalomthine measurements during August testing.
Water Quality Steps Being Taken
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been brought in to the Caseville Water Plant. The DEQ wants to determine the best way to address the problem and comply with the water safety standard. Hartz indicated that adjustments may be made of the amount of chlorine applied at Caseville’s pumping station to address the drinking water contamination.
Caseville has not asked residents to seek other water sources but has asked residents with health concerns to consult with their doctor.
Long-term exposure to high levels of Trihalomethanes can lead to kidney or liver damage and an increased risk for cancer.