Flint Marks Lead Standard Compliance Milestone
On Tuesday (Aug. 8), the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy announced that the City of Flint has met requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act for seven years straight.
The department adds that its Lead and Copper Rule monitoring has shown the 90th percentile for lead to be 8 parts per billion, meaning 90% of the test results used in the calculation came in at or below 8 ppb.
The latest testing result is reportedly lower than the previous 6-month period result of 9 ppb for lead and remains below the federal action level of 15 ppb.
“We want the world to know that Flint is a strong community, and both residents and city officials continue to work hard every day to advocate for water as a human right,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “We have made many upgrades to our water infrastructure in the last four years, but there is more work to do to rebuild trust.
“Today, once again, we have strong scientific evidence of the quality of water in the city of Flint, and my continued prayer is that this will help restore Flint residents’ confidence in our water system.”
According to the EGLE, the water system has tested below action levels for both lead and copper during 14 consecutive monitoring periods since July 2016.
Test results from 30 residences (Tier 1) and 32 commercial properties (Tier 2) served by lead service lines showed four sites above the 15 ppb action level, the department reports.
Testing reportedly revealed that all four of the results were collected from Tier 2 sites where low water use patterns and aging interior plumbing continue to be contributing factors to lead levels. Of the four elevated results, two of them were attributable to 1st liter samples, which reflect the presence of lead in fixtures and adjoining plumbing.
Overall, the results are consistent with data from recent monitoring periods and continue to demonstrate that the city’s corrosion control program is effective.
Tier 2 sites reportedly make up a growing portion of Flint’s water sampling pool as Flint’s residential lead service line replacement nears completion. If only the 30 residential sites had been used in the calculation, the result would have been 2 ppb. All sites were notified of their results and actions were taken to reduce exposure.
Flint’s drinking water crisis began in April 2014, when the city chose to switch its water source from Detroit’s water supply to the Flint River as an interim solution, while a pipeline to carry water from Lake Huron to the communities by the newly formed Karegnondi Water Authority was being built.
Water from the Flint River was not treated with corrosion-control agents, and reportedly began to corrode the city’s aging pipes. Drinking water in many homes was contaminated with lead, leading to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, while also causing a public health crisis.
Through an internal investigation that concluded in October 2016, the EPA was reported to not have acted fast enough in its efforts to warn the residents of Flint about the lead contamination in its drinking water.
Most recently, in March, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced last week that a judge has granted final approval in a $600 million settlement regarding the water crisis in Flint.
Flint Water Tower Work
In May, it was reported that exterior repair work was scheduled to start on the Flint Water Tower in Michigan, followed by interior cleaning and painting, among other upgrades. Exterior repairs will began with crews power washing, painting and performing other maintenance.
Afterwards, the water tower was expected to be isolated from the rest of the water system to be taken out of service for about 4 to 6 weeks. The City of Flint reported it would notify residents of the exact timing before the water tower goes offline.
Maintenance inside the water tower reportedly included:
The city explained that the expected repair time period allows for draining, cleaning, repairing the tank, application of paint, curing of paint, refilling and testing the tank, and bacteriological testing.
Additionally, some minor operational changes were implemented while the water tower is offline, such as the installation of several pressure relief valves on fire hydrants around the city.
According to the city, the primary Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) water delivering line, the secondary Genesee County Drain Commission (GCDC) water delivering line, the Cedar Street reservoir and pumping station and the Dort reservoir and pumping station will all be in service during the water tower repair project.