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Flint school officials say they want long-term water monitoring program

Jan 3, 2018

Dr. Bilal Tawwab (right), superintendent of Flint Community Schools, speaks about the need for a long-term water monitoring program. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (left) and Dr. Lawrence Reynolds (center) listen.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Flint's public schools says he wants the state to agree to a comprehensive plan to monitor water in district schools.

Flint school buildings had some of the highest lead levels in their tap water when the city’s water crisis began, but little testing has taken place since.

The Department of Environmental Quality says the district is blocking it from testing and flushing water in some Flint school buildings. 

Flint Community Schools Superintendent Bilal Tawwab wants a long-term testing plan to reassure Flint residents.

“We can not just go in, do testing, and sort of walk away,” Tawwab told reporters Wednesday. “I think the community needs to see an ongoing plan where testing is occurring.”

Tawwab wants the local medical community to have a say as to when the water quality, in terms of lead and bacteria levels, meets acceptable standards.   

A DEQ spokeswoman defends the state’s interaction with the district.

“We (the state) have been and remain committed to working with the Flint Community Schools and medical community on flushing and testing in Flint Community Schools,” said DEQ spokeswoman Tiffany Brown. “To date, many positive steps have been taken including previous extensive flushing and testing, replacement of fixtures, and installation of over 1,400 filters in the schools, day care, and elder care facilities.”

Brown says the state continues to work in collaboration with the EPA, National Sanitation Foundation International, Genesee County Health Department, Flint Technical Advisory Committee, and Flint Community Schools. 

Meanwhile, Flint schools continue to pass out bottled water to children. The water is coming from a coalition of major corporations, including Nestle and Coca-Cola. 

City-wide testing conducted in November 2017 showed that 98.5 percent of the samples were at or below the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

The latest round of city-wide testing wrapped up on Dec. 31. Those results are expected in the next few weeks.