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Consultant may recommend simple response to lead level spikes in Flint

Feb 8, 2017

Despite efforts to reduce lead levels in Flint’s tap water, some homes continue to test with levels far above the federal action level.  

But a consultant may soon recommend a simple response.

Cornwell Engineering Group is studying the problem of corrosion control in Flint’s water system.  A lack of proper corrosion controls created the city’s water crisis. Improperly treated Flint River water damaged city pipes, which leached lead into the tap water. More than a year after the city’s water system was switched back to Detroit, water lead levels remain high.

Among the possible responses being considered by the consultant is recommending ‘whole house flushing’ of homes that test especially high for lead in their tap water.

The idea is to flush water through the pipes to remove lead particulates.   

Bryce Feighner is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  He’s not surprised some homes continue to post very high lead levels.

“They will occur because particulates still happen because of construction and other things going on in the system,” says Feighner. 

This wouldn’t be the first time this approach has been tried.  A city wide flushing program was tried last year. Overall, tests show lead levels declining in Flint’s drinking water. But tests continue to show sharp spikes in some homes.

The consultant’s final report, which could address a wide range of issues, is expected in another month