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Great Lakes Article:

Homeland security provides funds for lake
Chad Selweski
Macomb Daily

It took the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to secure a Pentagon commitment to spend big bucks on protecting the waters of Lake St. Clair. The new defense budget offers $3.5 million for extensive water monitoring to protect the lake from potential chemical contamination by terrorists. The lake serves as the drinking water source for 4 million southeast Michigan residents.

Federal and county officials will announce Tuesday that $3.5 million has been earmarked for "real-time" monitoring equipment on the lake. That will allow nearly instantaneous analysis of the water, without a 1- or 2-day delay for laboratory work.

The funding will be used to detect chemical and biological agents in Lake St. Clair and the rivers that flow into the lake. The monitoring system will also sound the alarm when industrial pollutants or sewage threaten the waterways.

Lake St. Clair flows into the main water intake for the Detroit regional water system, located in the Detroit River near Belle Isle.

The funding is a major victory for county officials who have spent nine years trying to reduce beach closings due to sewage overflows.

TACOM, the U.S. Army's Tank-Automotive Command center in Warren, will work with the Macomb County Health Department on developing the new system.

TACOM first attempted to establish a real-time monitoring system in 1998 in the St. Clair River, upstream from the lake, without much success. That same year, TACOM's water research laboratory was named as one of the most prestigious facilities in the nation, one of four National Centers for Water Treatment Technologies.

Tuesday's announcement will be made at Metropolitan Beach in Harrison Township by Gen. N. Ross Thompson, commander of TACOM. Also on hand for the press conference will be U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; his brother, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin; county board Chairman John Hertel; and county Water Quality Board Chairman Doug Martz.

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