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Flint reconnects to Detroit's water system

People upset about the safety and quality of Flint's tap water packed a public meeting last January.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
People upset about the safety and quality of Flint's tap packed a public meeting last January.

After a failed experiment with Flint River water, city officials announced late this afternoon that Flint is returning to Detroit's system for its drinking water.

Soon after the city switched its source water to the Flint River in April 2014, residents began to complain of problems. There were complaints regarding the water's color, warnings about high E. coli levels, then warnings about unsafe levels of chemicals in the water, and ultimately independent tests that showed kids in the city were likely being exposed to unsafe levels of lead in the water.

Today, Flint turned another page in the water crisis story.

"Today, we’re reversing the decisions of four emergency managers. We stood up to Lansing and we fought back to get us on Detroit water," said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling.

Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University is one of the independent experts who assisted city residents in assessing the unsafe condition of the city's drinking water supply.

He has said he expects the problem of lead leaching into the water from the city's underground pipes and from old plumbing in homes to decrease after about a month after the switch back to Detroit water.

City officials say the complete transition back to Detroit water will take some time.

More from the city's press release:

Detroit water will be introduced into the Flint system throughout the evening. It is expected that the thorough replacement from Flint River water to Detroit water will happen after approximately three weeks. Residents in Flint may see discoloration as well as noticing some taste and odor issues during the transition. Water provided by DWSD will contain corrosion control agents to hinder the leaching of lead from old pipes into the water; however, the City will also be adding additional corrosion control agents to further minimize the risk presented by lead pipes.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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