The water crisis in Flint, Mich., is far from over, but the Associated Press reports that the city’s water system no longer has levels of lead that grossly exceed the federal limit. Michigan state environmental officials are calling this good news for the city, whose residents are still dealing with the fallout from officials’ negligence.
According to AP, the 90th percentile of lead concentrations in Flint was 12 parts per billion from July through December, which is below the “action level” of 15 parts per billion, a letter from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to Flint’s mayor read. During the previous six-month period, the lead concentrations read at 20 parts per billion.
State officials told AP that the city’s lead levels are once again comparable to those of other cities in the U.S.
“This is good news and the result of many partners on the local, county, state and federal levels working together to restore the water quality in the City of Flint,” Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether said in a statement. “The Flint water system is one of the most monitored systems in the country for lead and copper, and that commitment will remain to ensure residents continue to have access to clean water.”
However, residents are still being encouraged to continue using faucet filters or bottled water, since the ongoing mass replacement of pipes in the city could raise lead levels in individual homes.
As AP notes, city residents still have a widespread mistrust of government nearly three years after the city’s main water source was switched in April 2014. Officials failed to properly treat lead lines for corrosion, leading to the crisis.
Michigan acknowledged the problem in October 2015 as lead from old pipes continued to leach into the water supply. The entire city was affected, with elevated levels of lead detected in children. In addition, some 12 people died of Legionnaires’ disease, which experts believe is linked to the improperly treated water, the newswire notes.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has apologized for the crisis, which put his administration under immense and intense scrutiny.
“The remarkable improvement in water quality over the past year is a testament to all levels of government working together and the resilient people of Flint helping us help them through participation in the flushing programs,” Snyder said in a statement, AP notes. “There is still more work to do in Flint, and I remain committed to helping the residents recover and restore their city.”