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Good news for Flint's problem-plagued water system

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint’s troubled water system got some good news this week. 

The system is back in compliance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

A year ago, tests showed higher-than-acceptable levels of total trihalomethanes, or TTHM, a disinfectant byproduct, in the city’s water.

The city had recently switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River as its source for the city’s tap water.

But river water requires more treatment. The large amount of chlorine used to combat E. coli in the water resulted in the spike in TTHM.   

It’s taken a year, but the system’s yearly average of TTHM has finally fallen back below acceptable levels.

Brad Wurfel is with the Department of Environmental Quality. He credits the city with taking the necessary steps to reduce TTHM, including the installation of new filters.

“We feel pretty comfortable that they’re on top of things right now,” says Wurfel. 

The good news about TTHM comes as new concerns about lead levels in Flint water are growing.

Recent tests by researchers at Virginia Tech University have shown “serious” levels of lead in a sampling of Flint homes. The researchers have urged many homeowners to stop drinking Flint water. 

State DEQ officials say they want to review the VT study findings, although Wurfel says their testing has not produced the same results.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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