Oct 07, 2019

Flint, Mich., Water Tests Below State & Federal Action Levels

Flint, Mich., water is testing below state and federal action levels for lead for the third consecutive year. 



In Flint, Mich., approximately 90% of water samples taken from January to June of 2019 showed 3 ppb of lead in the first liter and 6 ppb in the fifth liter, reported Michigan Radio. Since July 2016, the city of Flint’s water system has tested below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). State officials said Flint's residual chlorine and orthophosphate levels are being managed effectively.

“Every Michigander deserves safe, clean drinking water,” said Eric Oswald, director of  Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division. “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 a Sept. 27 letter to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, the EGLE said that Flint must notify its water customers of deficiencies in its testing and reporting program within 30 days. Flint initially failed to verify that its water samples came from enough homes with lead service lines or lead plumbing fixtures, according to Michigan Live. The city met the requirement of obtaining samples from 60 high risk sites, but only returned to compliance after submitting additional documentation on Sept. 16, 2019.

Though the results are promising, there is no safe level of lead, according to Elin Betanzo, an engineer and certified water operator who played a role in uncovering Flint’s water crisis. 

“We often hear that something is going on in that individual home—but we sample to know what people are drinking. We sample to get the highest-risk homes,” Betanzo said. “That means there are probably other homes that meet that criteria that have similar levels of lead in their water.” The city still has not confirmed the material composition from 35 sites sampled as part of their compliance monitoring. 

After the Flint water crisis, Michigan adopted the nation’s toughest lead rules for drinking water in 2018. The new LCR requires that all lead service lines in the state be removed. Flint appears to be on schedule to replace all of its lead water lines by the end of 2019. Public water systems statewide will be required to begin replacing lead service lines beginning in 2025.

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