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An update on Flint's water crisis as 'technical committee' is set to meet tomorrow

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.

One of the biggest questions of the Flint water crisis centers on corrosion control.

As we heard from Virginia Tech water specialist Marc Edwards, federal rules dictate that communities have measures in place to prevent water from leaching lead out of old pipes.

The very thing that happened when the city of Flint stopped taking treated water from Detroit and began drawing its water from the Flint River.

So were corrosion control measures in place or not?

We spoke with Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith and Steve Carmody to sort this question out.

Smith said she’s been trying to get clarification as to whether Flint, by law, had to have a plan in place when then switched to Flint River water.

“If you don’t switch water sources, you have to have some corrosion-control plan in place so that lead doesn’t corrode out of old distribution lines or plumbing in some people’s homes … State officials are saying that they’re reading the law in a way that they had two six-month testing periods once they switched to the Flint River,” said Smith.

Smith said those testing periods ended this summer, and now state officials say they’ll implement a corrosion-control plan. She said the Environmental Protection Agency won’t come out and say whether the state broke the law by not implementing any corrosion-control plan at this point, but that the agency simply says it’s helping the state put a plan in place.

Carmody says the state’s "technical group" will meet tomorrow and will consider how best to control corrosion in Flint’s water pipes. Federal, state, and local officials are looking at adding orthophosphate, a corrosion inhibitor, to Flint’s water supply.

In the meantime, water filters are being distributed to those most at risk in the city. Carmody says the state is well short of the 20,000 water filters that are needed at this point.

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