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Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy: Flint water remains within safe lead levels

water drop
David Becker

The latest twice-a-year check of Flint’s water pipes shows drinking water is safe, and the city is close to reaching a goal of replacing all lead service lines.

The study by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) shows lead levels in Flint water dropped slightly during the first six months of this year, which follows a steady pattern of improvement.

“The twice-yearly monitoring that’s been going on for a number of years now is showing the positive impact of the water infrastructure improvements that the City of Flint has made,” Scott Dean of EGLE said.

He said 95% of Flint residences have had their lead lines replaced. Dean added the water system also has redundant protections in place.

“The city now has a completed backup line that gives them a secondary line of Great Lakes water coming into Flint so they will never, ever have to consider using the Flint River again now that they have a safe and reliable backup system,” he told Michigan Public Radio.

But he said the study does not take an extensive look at water pipes inside buildings.

“In an aging building with older plumbing, older fixtures that might have lead solder, things of that nature, upgrading interior plumbing is also a benefit in terms of further driving down those potential lead exposures,” he said.

He said rarely occupied commercial buildings can be a problem, and people should run water for a while and flush toilets several times before using the water for drinking.

The Flint water crisis began after a state-appointed emergency manager disconnected the city from the Detroit system to instead draw water from the Flint River.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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