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According to a U.S. EPA official, Flint’s water system is improving.

This conclusion is the result of a closed-door meeting at EPA headquarters in Chicago yesterday. Data was presented from a number of officials, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Tech, EPA experts from Flint, and the Center for Disease Control.

Robert Kaplan is the acting administrator for EPA Region 5.

Stateside's Cynthia Canty talked to Kaplan right after last night's meeting ended

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A group of doctors, regulators and outside experts is meeting behind closed doors in Chicago Tuesday to determine if Flint’s water technically meets federal standards again. The meeting at EPA’s regional headquarters could be the start of a shift; from a public health emergency to a longer term response.

Water samples have improved for several months. But there are still some homes with spikes in lead levels that are potentially dangerous without a water filter.

Some experts now believe any homes with a lead water service line are at risk.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

Researchers from Virginia Tech are announcing the results of their fourth round of water testing in Flint today.

For many people in the city, their trust in government has been broken. They don't trust what the state, or the federal government say about the safety of their water.

The Virginia Tech researchers are more trusted. They sounded the alarm about the lead crisis in the summer of 2015. And they've been retesting as many of the homes in their original study as they can. Officials are watching what the team has to say about the safety of the water closely. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city’s water crisis has given many people in Flint sleepless nights.

Last night, the man who helped reveal the problem spent a sleepless night seeing if things are getting better. 

In the wee small hours of the morning, Virginia Tech water expert Marc Edwards took and tested water samples at the Flint home of Lee Anne Walters. It was in Walters’ home that the extent of the city’s water crisis was first confirmed.

Edwards tested the water hourly to see how chlorine and bacteria levels changed during the hours when water generally flows slower through the system.

Congressman Moolenaar said this approval comes at a good time, following the release of a study this month that showed almost twice as many of Flint’s water lines may need to be replaced than originally thought.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Flint officials hope to ink contracts with three companies to begin removing lead service lines.

The service lines have been a major source of lead in Flint’s drinking water. But of the thousands of lead service lines in the city, to date, only 33 have been replaced.

Final agreements are expected to be signed this week with the companies hired to replace about 250 service lines. Plans are to fully replace 100 lines. Another 150 will involve partial replacement. Homeowners may be notified later this week that their service lines will soon be replaced.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, Virginia Tech researchers return to Flint to test the city’s drinking water for a third time.

A year ago, their tests showed high levels of lead in the city’s tap water.

A second round of testing showed improvement, but not enough.

Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researchers are back in Flint this week.

This time they’re focused on the city’s hot water heaters.

Many Flint residents fear lead and other metals leaching from damaged pipes have accumulated in their hot water heaters making bathing hazardous. 

For the next few weeks, Virginia Tech researchers will be testing water heaters not only for lead, but also for bacteria, including Legionella.  

Marc Edwards delivers the results of the tests on April 12, 2016.
YouTube / screen grab

New tests from the team at Virginia Tech show Flint’s water is “highly variable” and still not safe to drink without a filter.

Marc Edwards says tests done last month show Flint’s water is still above the federal action level for lead.

More from their press release:

Flint water sampling kits being handed out in Flint last month.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Researchers at Virginia Tech will spend the next week comparing current lead levels to the same homes they tested back in August. Those were the first tests that demonstrated a serious lead problem.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Researchers from Virginia Tech are back in Flint to test people’s tap water, but some residents are not willing to have their water tested again.

Last summer, tests by Virginia Tech were the first to show elevated lead levels in Flint’s drinking water.

Virginia Tech Ph.D student says testing the same homes is the best way to know if things have changed, but he says they are running into some resistance from homeowners.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new round of testing could show if the amount of lead in Flint’s drinking water is declining.

Virginia Tech researchers will send testing kits to people in Flint this week. The researchers spent Friday assembling 300 kits.  

Researcher Siddhartha Roy says they are testing the same homes they did back in August and September.  Those tests revealed unsafe levels of lead.

They also expect to see lower lead levels.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Marc Edwards is coming back to Flint.

Edwards’ team was the first to discover high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water last summer. Earlier this month, Edwards announced his team was ending its probe of Flint's lead-tainted water.

Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that Edwards will oversee all water testing by the state and federal governments.

“He is fully independent. He will be reporting to me,” says Weaver.

Weaver adds that Edwards’ work will be paid for with “private donations.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Researchers from Virginia Tech announced yesterday they are ending their investigation into Flint’s lead tainted water.

Virginia Tech sounded the alarm last summer when their tests turned up high lead levels in Flint drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated 10:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech researchers accuse Michigan health officials of trying to “stonewall” the investigation into lead in Flint’s drinking water.

The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, are available online. 

Marc Edwards says newly obtained internal documents show Department of Health and Human Services employees tried to hide evidence that matched the increased lead levels in children found by doctors at Hurley Medical Center.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top researcher says it’s still too soon to drink Flint’s tap water unfiltered.

Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards has been studying Flint’s water problems for months.    Tests conducted by Edwards’ team on water samples from more than 250 Flint homes showed elevated levels of lead.  

Edwards has been in Flint this week testing tap water in ten ‘sentinel’ homes.  He says the tests are tracking what’s happened in the six weeks since Flint switched back to Detroit water, after 18 months of getting tap water from the corrosive Flint River. 

Virginia Tech University

Virginia Tech researchers are back in Flint testing the city’s water.

This time they’re looking for bacteria that can lead to a variety of illnesses, including Legionnaires' disease.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Experts will try to come up with a solution to Flint’s water problems tomorrow.

State and federal regulators, along with national experts, will take part in the meeting that will take place at Flint city hall Wednesday afternoon.

They will hear a presentation from Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards. Edwards is in New York City for a prior commitment, but he’s rearranged his schedule so he can make his presentation to the tech panel remotely. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report estimates it will cost the city of Flint $1.5 billion to repair the damage done since the switch to the Flint River as a water source.

Researchers from Virginia Tech based their estimate on the tests of the corrosiveness of the Flint River.

The researchers say the corrosiveness is “eating away” iron pipes, aging the system by more than 11.5 years in just the last 16 months.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has issued an advisory for lead in city drinking water.

The advisory comes a day after local hospital officials announced blood lead levels in young children in Flint have doubled, and in some cases tripled, since the city started getting its drinking water from the Flint River in April of 2014.

Mayor Dayne Walling says city residents should take steps to reduce their lead exposure.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Amid growing concerns about Flint’s drinking water, federal, state and local elected leaders were briefed today in Lansing by federal and state environmental regulators. After the meeting, one prominent elected official called for more independent testing of Flint's drinking water.

Recent tests by researchers from Virginia Tech University have shown "serious" lead levels in a significant percentage of Flint homes. The tests showed lead levels in some homes at 15 parts per billion or higher. The researchers have advised many homeowners to stop drinking their tap water, especially if there are young children or pregnant women living there.

Marc Edwards, PhD, of Virginia Tech University, holds two vials of water, one from Flint and the other from Detroit. Edwards' research helped uncover the serious problems affecting Flint's water supply.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This past week, researchers from Virginia Tech University were back in Flint to conduct more tests of the city’s tap water. 

A previous round of tests of nearly 300 homes found ‘serious’ lead levels in nearly one in five homes.  

That’s at odds with tests conducted by the city of Flint and overseen by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which didn’t show higher than acceptable levels of lead in the water. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality plans to respond Monday to a demand for answers about Flint’s water woes.

Last week, State Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, state Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, and state Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, sent a letter to DEQ director Dan Wyant demanding answers to a list of questions about the safety and treatment of Flint’s drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests show that possible changes to how Flint treats its drinking water may not solve a problem that could be creating "serious" lead levels in people's tap water.

Virginia Tech University researchers say a big part of the problem with Flint’s tap water is the corrosiveness of Flint River water.

They claim it’s 19 times more corrosive to lead solder used in pipes than the Detroit water it replaced.     

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A candidate for Flint mayor wants the federal government to investigate the city’s problem plagued water system and how city officials have responded to those problems.

Residents have complained about the city’s water since a switch last year from Detroit water to the Flint River as the source.

The latest concern has focused on lead levels. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

By the end of this week, a team at Virginia Tech University may complete testing of water samples from 300 Flint homes. Preliminary tests have shown “serious” levels of lead in city water.

Professor Marc Edwards is a MacArthur fellow who has spent decades analyzing lead in municipal water supplies.