High Manganese Means Infants Should Not Drink Battle Creek City Water for Now

Jun 14, 2018

Calhoun County Medical Director William Nettleton, center, with Health Officer Eric Pessell (left) and City Manager Rebecca Fleury on Thursday
Credit Sehvilla A Mann / WMUK

(Update: Saturday, June 16, at 8:30 p.m.) The City of Battle Creek has lifted the drinking water advisory. City officials say 52 samples taken in various parts of the city found only four that had levels of manganese above those set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The say the four that were higher came from the Verona wellfield from sources that do not feed directly into the city's water supply.  

The City of Battle Creek is investigating after it found elevated levels of manganese in two samples of city water. Health officials say the water is safe for most people, but infants less than one year old should not drink it for now.

While the federal government does not set a limit for manganese in drinking water, it considers the metal a contaminant and requires occasional testing. On Thursday, the Department of Environmental Quality’s Eric Oswald said Battle Creek is the first place in Michigan to find high manganese during recent tests.

“But we have other states that have found it, and Wisconsin and Minnesota are dealing with some similar issues. And we’re expecting that this is going to become an issue as the other states start going through their unregulated contaminant sample,” he said.

Battle Creek will supply bottled water to affected families at fire stations and some other public buildings around the service area (more details are below). Calhoun County Health Officer Eric Pessell also suggested finding a different source of water for young pets.

“Treat the puppy the same as the infant. But an adult dog would be the same as an adult person,” he said.

City leaders say residents should not boil their water to try to get rid of manganese. They say that could make the problem worse by concentrating the metal.

Where parents of infants can pick up bottled water

- At fire stations between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

- At the Battle Creek Police Department, same hours and days.

- At the city's Department of Public Works, 7:30 am to 6pm Monday through Friday.

- At City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Residents can also call to get information:

Calhoun County Health Department hotline, 269-969-6852 (Information about manganese and health)

City of Battle Creek hotline, 269-966-3311 (Provides information and connects callers with Department of Public Works staff between 7:30 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday)

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 800-648-6942 (Monday through Friday, 8 am - 5 pm)