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New tests show improvement in Flint water quality

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The latest testing shows the level of lead in Flint’s tap water has declined again.

Flint’s drinking water has been closely tested since the height of the city’s water crisis.   

In early 2016, the highest risk homes, with lead service lines, were testing at 20 parts per billion.  The federal action level for lead is 15 parts per billion. The latest testing found four parts per billion in the 90th percentile of the highest risk homes

“That’s an indicator to us that the corrosion control treatment that we’re putting into the water is working and the city is doing a good job of controlling…corrosion in their water system” says Eric Oswald, the Director of the Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.   

Oswald also credits Flint’s service line removal program for much of the improvement. 

Since 2016, the city has inspected more than 20,000 pipes connecting to city water mains and replaced nearly 8,000 lead and galvanized lines.

But Oswald says problems remain.

“People need to understand that once all the lead service lines are removed from the city of Flint there’s still an issue with premise plumbing,” says Oswald. “That is the plumbing on the inside the homes that may have leaded solder. They may have older fixtures that have brass components that can have some lead in them.”

The federal and state governments have spent more than $400 million helping Flint recover from the water crisis. 

However, despite the money spent and improvements made, many Flint residents remain skeptical about claims their water is safe to drink, even with a filter.  

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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