News Feature | September 16, 2015

Feds Called In For Corrosion Control Treatment In Flint

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

After more than a year of contamination challenges, Flint, MI, is facing an additional threat to its drinking water: lead.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will send help to the city as it develops plans for controlling corrosion in treated Flint River water, a key to keeping lead from leaching into homes and businesses,” Michigan Live reported.

“The EPA said that while city water is within allowable levels for lead, it has ‘recommended that Flint implement corrosion control treatment as soon as possible since the city's lead service lines can leach lead into the drinking water if left untreated,’” the report said.

Tests by Virginia Tech researchers indicated that nearly 17 percent of Flint samples showed 15 ppb of lead or more. The EPA says that “if lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 ppb... in more than 10 percent of customer taps sampled, the system must undertake a number of additional actions to control corrosion.”

One challenge for correcting the problem is a lack of funding, and local officials are beginning to make appeals to the state for help.

“Mayor Dayne Walling is asking Gov. Rick Snyder for $30 million to upgrade Flint's water system, including $10 million to remove lead service pipes and plumbing susceptible to leaching lead,” Michigan Live reported.

Walling sent a letter to the governor in September requesting assistance, according to the report:

"We need every available expert and resource to address Flint's water problems," Walling's letter says. "Flint's safety is my top priority. Just as the city and state have worked together on public safety, we need additional support for fixing the water problems. We need $30 million in new funds to repair and update the city-wide infrastructure and to assist households in becoming lead-free."

Flint has faced water challenges, including e-coli and high trihalomethane levels, since it stopped using Detroit's water supply last year and became responsible for its own treatment processes. Since the switch to Flint River water, "residents started complaining about skin rashes and their hair falling out, likely caused by the chlorine used to kill the e-coli," Michigan Radio reported.

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