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Experts meet in Flint tomorrow to discuss fixing city's tap water

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Experts will try to come up with a solution to Flint’s water problems tomorrow.

State and federal regulators, along with national experts, will take part in the meeting that will take place at Flint city hall Wednesday afternoon.

They will hear a presentation from Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards. Edwards is in New York City for a prior commitment, but he’s rearranged his schedule so he can make his presentation to the tech panel remotely. 

It was Edwards’ testing that showed ‘serious’ lead levels in Flint drinking water. A team of researchers at Virginia Tech collected samples from nearly 300 homes in Flint. They discovered many homes with lead levels in excess of 15 parts per billion, far higher than acceptable. 

Later testing by doctors at Hurley Medical Center and other local hospitals showed blood lead levels in Flint children have doubled since the city switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River as the source of the city’s tap water. 

While he prefers the city return to Detroit water, Virginia Tech’s Marc Edwards says his tests show a plan to use orthophosphate could be “a pretty good band aid” against further lead and iron pipe corrosion.

There is an offer on the table to return to Detroit water, but Flint would need help from the state to pay the more than million dollars a month that would cost.

Last week, state officials announced a plan that included more testing of Flint water and a million dollars for the purchase of water filters for city residents.  

But there’s been no decision on reconnecting to Detroit water.

Next year, the city of Flint hopes to connect with a new pipeline being built from Lake Huron. 

Experts say, while the new water source will help, the city’s aging, decaying lead pipes will remain a problem.  

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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