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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan regulators are cracking down on municipal sewage plants in an effort to decrease the amount of chemicals flowing into the Great Lakes.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants the plants to treat industrial wastewater and determine which customers are using the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are contaminating water supplies across the state, reports .

“We suspect that platers may be a main source,” said Carla Davidson, an environmental quality analyst in the DEQ Water Resources Division’s Upper Peninsula office.

The approximately 70 plants were notified in February that they have until late June to identify industrial customers using PFAS and create a plan to monitor and reduce the chemicals. A final report must be submitted in October.

“That’s really more of a beginning point,” said Teresa Seidel, DEQ water resources director. “It’s giving wastewater plants an opportunity to see what’s in their systems and get it out.”

The federal Clean Water Act allows the DEQ to ban pollutants from passing through sewage plants into the environment.

“Our control is with the wastewater plant, not the industrial users upstream,” Seidel said.

If an industrial customer doesn’t cooperate with the process, a treatment plant could stop accepting their effluent, but that scenario would be a last resort, Seidel said.

Division leaders said scrutiny of industrial wastewater began last year in Lapeer. PFAS in sewage plant discharge was traced to Lapeer Plating and Plastics, an automotive supplier that uses the chemicals in decorative chrome finishing.

Studies suggest the chemicals affect fetal development, disrupt hormonal functions, damage fertility and immune systems, and boost the risk of cancer.


Information from: The Grand Rapids,