#Flint: 1,383 Days Without Safe Water, and the EPA Wants to Make Sure This Doesn’t Happen Again

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Monday marks day 1,383 that the people in the city of Flint, Mich., have been without safe water in their pipes. Although experts claim that lead levels are much lower than they were before, residents are still being cautioned to use bottled water or water filters.

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As the city’s old pipes are being replaced (thus prolonging the need for bottled water and water filters), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking to prevent home plumbing from being contaminated by particulate lead that could be released as contractors work on the city’s service lines, MLive.com reports.

To combat that, the EPA is recommending that contractors shut off water to both the service line and the customer before they begin replacement work.

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“Once particulate lead enters the home plumbing, especially if the home plumbing contains galvanized iron pipe, it is difficult to fully flush all of the particulate lead out ... and random release of particulate lead into the water can continue long after the (lead service line) and all associated galvanized iron pipe are fully removed,” the EPA recommendation says.

“In addition, given the potential for very high lead release due to physical disturbances, EPA’s Technical Support Team also recommends that (service line) removal crews coordinate with entities distributing filters” to protect homes if there are lead releases, the directive continues.

The EPA has previously warned the city about the risk of increased lead in the drinking water when crews do underground work that could dislodge scale and sediment into water pipes. The agency also warned against using excavation as a means of verifying the presence of lead service lines because that can also release particulate lead.

Meanwhile, last year, thousands of water service lines were removed and excavated in the city.

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City residents are still waiting for the “all clear” sign as far as their water is concerned.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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DISCUSSION

Flint— Testing in the last months of 2017 found that four schools and care facilities in Flint had elevated levels of lead in their water.

State officials in Michigan found that 98.5 percent of locations sampled were at or below the 15 parts per billion federal threshold for lead. Flint Community Schools didn’t grant the state access to its facilities.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2018/01/05/flint-water-schools/109179472/

This is higher percentage than my city of nearly the same size down the road, which has won awards for water quality. I really enjoyed the way this was covered early on, here. But at this point, aside from keeping every abreast of what’s been going on, the headline has become borderline misleading. And because painting this as the same crisis it was when this broke, instead of as having fallen to the kind of common water quality issue it’s become, it really does disservice to all of the work put in by Mayor Weaver, the EPA, the Lansing Board of Water and Light who helped changed out old piping, etc...

There is a lot that needs to be done to regain trust. That will take decades. But Flint is not “waiting” for clean drinking water; it’s already here. The issue, now, is making sure all of the rest of the pipes get changed out so that they never have to worry about an event in which old pipes are corroded. And then also that those currently on trial are convicted and held accountable for letting what happened -past tense - happen.