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State looking to build trust in Flint water response

A photo collage of Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

State officials are looking at ways to improve their response to Flint’s water crisis, almost three years after the disastrous decision to pump water from the Flint River. 

As the city of Flint continues to rip out thousands of old lead and galvanized pipes connecting homes and businesses to city water mains, state officials expect they will see spikes in lead levels in the water.

Heavy equipment brought in to dig the holes and crews removing the service lines can dislodge particles of lead from surrounding pipes. Last year, the city of Flint replaced nearly 800 service lines. This year, the goal is closer to 6,000.  

Keith Creagh is the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says “additional standards and practices” are needed to build trust in the community that what they are doing is working.

“If residents have questions, they can have their water sampled,” Creagh said after Friday’s meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee. “We need to have high lead level response teams in place so that within 72 hours, you can have somebody in your house.”

The government is also stepping up an outreach program where staffers visit Flint homes to see if they have properly installed water filters.

State officials say lead levels in Flint tap water are improving, but are still too high to drink safely without a filter.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Keith Creagh was the director of the DEQ. He is the director of the DNR.

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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