Flint water meets state, federal standards for 3rd straight year 

    Workers repairing lead pipes in Flint
    City of Flint, Michigan workers prepare to replace a lead water service line pipe at the site of the first Flint home with high lead levels to have its lead service line replaced under the Mayor's Fast Start program, on March 4, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. | Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

    Flint’s water system meets state and federal requirements for the third year in a row, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

    In 2018, Michigan adopted the strict rules surrounding lead in drinking water. Michigan’s revised Lead and Copper Rule requires all lead service lines be removed over the next 20 years. 

    However, EGLE said Flint officials are expecting to replace all the city’s remaining lead service lines end of 2019.

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    “Every Michigander deserves safe, clean drinking water,” Eric Oswald, director of EGLE’s Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division, said in a statement. “EGLE is committed to protecting the public from lead exposure by working collaboratively with the city of Flint and other communities throughout the state to reduce or eliminate all sources of lead in homes.” 

    In 2014, as part of a cost-saving plan and under state emergency management, city and state officials made an ultimately catastrophic switch in the city’s water supply, changing from the Detroit River and Lake Huron to the Flint River. This decision allowed water from the already polluted river to coarse through aging lead pipes without any anti-corrosion agents in place to keep water safe.

    Despite the state saying the water is now safe, residents in Flint remain wary, as the Advance has previously reported. 

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    In 2016, water samples in Flint were testing at 20 parts per billion (ppb) for lead, well above the federal standard of safety before action is required at 15 ppb. The latest monitoring period in 2019 from Jan. 1 to June 30 showed 90% of water samples are at 3 ppb in the first liter collected. 

    Flint water also tests below actionable levels of lead and copper, third-party independent experts confirm, according to EGLE.

    The state has provided over $350 million in taxpayer dollars to Flint to make improvements possible. Supplemented by around $100 million from the federal government, Flint has increased its water quality, replaced pipes and combated the harmful health effects of the water crisis.

    Anna Liz Nichols
    Anna Liz Nichols covers criminal justice, the environment and the Legislature. She has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. She is finishing up a degree in journalism and environmental studies at Michigan State University, graduating May 2020.

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