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Flint residents to get another advisory about their tap water

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint residents will soon get another letter saying there’s a problem with their tap water. It’s a letter they’ve seen before.

The city remains technically in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act for higher than acceptable levels of the disinfectant byproduct Total Trihalomethanes, otherwise known as TTHM.

TTHM levels spiked last year as the city battled high E. coli levels in the water with chlorine. The chlorine killed the E. coli, but the resulting TTHM levels have proved harder to reduce.

The city has actually brought the TTHM levels within acceptable limits. But the rolling average of tests conducted during the past year remains out of compliance.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
City Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow says the new filtration system being installed this summer is a "magic bullet" to deal with the system's quality issues.

“The (system) is actually showing great results right now," says Flint city administrator Natasha Henderson. “But because of the rolling average, we have to send out that notice, which will hopefully be the last one.”

A new filtration system being installed during the coming weeks should help. 

Flint utilities administrator Mike Glasgow calls the $1.5 million granulated active-charcoal filter system the “magic bullet.”

“It comes with a hefty price tag,” Glasgow admits, “but we got to do what we got to do for the residents to earn their trust back.”

That trust may be hard to win back. 

Last week, city crews opened fire hydrants on the University of Michigan-Flint campus in an attempt to flush out the water systems in several U of M buildings. Tests showed higher than acceptable levels in TTHM in the buildings.

City officials say the U of M-Flint TTHM numbers will not be reflected in the city’s official count.

Complaints about discolored, odd smelling water persist. 

A federal judge recently turned down a request for an injunction to force the city to return to getting its tap water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. A year ago, the city shut off its pipeline to Detroit and started using Flint River water instead.

Next year, the city plans to start getting its tap water from a new pipeline being built from Lake Huron. The lake water is expected to be easier to treat than the river water. 

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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