State says Flint didn’t report data on drinking water

    Flint | Susan J. Demas

    Environmental officials found that the city of Flint failed to report data on lead in drinking water to the state in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a letter sent to the city last week.

    In their letter dated Aug. 16, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) wrote that the city did not collect enough water samples from specified sampling locations.

    George Krisztian, assistant director for the department’s Drinking Water and Environmental Health division, said Friday in an email that although there are issues with the city’s collection and reporting process, it’s confident that the data that was collected correctly shows it’s in compliance with the state’s toughest-in-the-nation Lead and Copper Rule for drinking water.

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    “The samples taken by the City follow a highly prescriptive process.  All of the data undergoes validation to ensure that it is compliant with the requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR),” Krisztian said.

    He explained further that the city “must take samples from locations where they believe lead lines exist and then conduct an excavation afterwards to determine the service line composition. If there is lead on either side of the curb box then the sample is classified as a Tier 1 sample and is included in the calculation for the 90th percentile. EGLE has full confidence that the data that is being included in the 90th percentile calculation meets the requirements of the LCR.”

    In June, the state issued new, more stringent rules for testing Flint’s water, requiring the city to draw samples from both the first and fifth liter collected from any given site. 

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    A city official told the Detroit News that this change delayed the sampling process.

    Flint’s water has tested below the levels mandated by the LCR since July 2016. In his email, Krisztian said EGLE appreciates “the cooperation that the City has demonstrated and look forward to working with them in resolving this issue.” 

    He added, “It is important to note that the water quality continues to be good … because we have the results for all of the other samples that lack the service line material composition, we know that it is impossible for the City to have an Action Level Exceedance for the monitoring period.”

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson is a former associate editor of the Advance and is now a freelance writer in Chicago. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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