Michigan is testing Flint's water Joseph Assignment Volunteers Pack Water for Flint, Michigan. (PRNewsFoto/Joseph Assignment Global/AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Michigan is testing Flint's water
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The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has undertaken a five-part strategy to determine whether the city of Flint's water, which has become contaminated with lead, is safe to drink.
 
The state said the plan to try to ensure that drinking water is no longer tainted with lead includes residential water testing, school testing, food service and restaurant provider testing, blood testing and overall testing of Flint's water distribution system.
 
Flint switched its water source from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. The river water was not treated properly and lead from pipes leached into Flint homes. The city returned to Detroit's system in October while it awaits the completion of a separate pipeline to Lake Huron this summer.
 
DEQ Interim Director Keith Creagh told the Detroit Free Press he hopes "to be able to say something about the general health of the system come mid-April." Officials with the DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been meeting regularly.
 
State officials say water samples from roughly 5,000 homes have been tested, and about 94 percent have are below the "actionable level" of 15 parts per billion for lead. Still, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder urged all residents to submit a free water test kit, which can be picked up and returned to designated Flint fire stations.
 
The DEQ said it is working with the state Department of Health and Human Services to make sure residents with high blood-lead levels get their water tested. Those homes are provided additional services in an effort to minimize lead exposure, the state said.
 
"We want to ensure that all homes are getting the proper immediate attention and the home water tests will help in that process," Snyder said.
 
Flint residents coping with lead contamination will be cleared to drink unfiltered water again only when outside experts determine it is safe. Those who are evaluating the water and will help verify its quality include Marc Edwards. He is a Virginia Tech researcher who helped expose the lead problem and is providing independent guidance to the city and state.
 
Snyder has accepted responsibility for the emergency while also blaming state and federal environmental regulators. Some have resigned, including the DEQ's former top official, or have been suspended.
 
In a letter to more than 46,000 state employees, Snyder said "what happened in Flint can never be allowed to happen again anywhere in our state." He said he wants a culture where workers' "input is valued." He also thanked workers for volunteering in Flint in recent weeks.
 
Ray Holman, legislative liaison for the United Auto Workers Local 6000, the biggest state employee union, called Snyder's letter a "little disingenuous," saying workers often are dissuaded from "thinking outside the box" and speaking up, and have been disciplined for not closely following policy.
 
Meanwhile, music mogul Russell Simmons has joined many well-known entrepreneurs, artists and actors who have visited the city or pledged their support. He went door-to-door delivering cases of water to residents.
 
The water comes from AQUAhydrate, a bottled water brand partly owned by Sean "Diddy" Combs and Mark Wahlberg that pledged to donate 1 million bottles to the city. The RushCard prepaid debit card system, of which Simmons is a founder, was part of the relief effort.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Explain how lead got into homes.
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (34)
  • erimondrel-cat
    2/05/2016 - 09:51 a.m.

    The rising problem of Flint's water contamination can be traced back to 2014 when the city switched its water supply from that of Detroit's to the Flint River. Unfortunately, the river water was not treated properly and,"lead from pipes leached into Flint homes." This concerned almost all citizens of Flint, as the extremely hazardous material's effects are almost always fatal. The article was very informative and kept me wanting to read more. I will probably continue to research Flint's water supply issue on my own.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    2/09/2016 - 01:14 p.m.

    The lead got into the homes because it came off the pipes and since they didn't have a very good filtration system it got into the homes' drinking water.

  • melissaj-Ste
    2/09/2016 - 05:12 p.m.

    I had heard about this as a small story before it blew up into a large investigation. This whole issue is disgusting. The family that noticed the problem with the water received health damages from drinking it. Although the plan to switch from Detroit's water system to the Flint River was thought to be easier, it was not healthier. They government should have looked more into the health effects of that plan before going ahead.

  • julianc-bag
    2/09/2016 - 09:55 p.m.

    Lead got into the water because of the pipes in the water system because they leaked into the lake.

  • laurenc-bag
    2/09/2016 - 09:58 p.m.

    Lead got into Flint's residents because of the switch to the Flint river for a water resource. It got into pipes and made its way into the residents' bodies.

  • bryanm1-wil
    2/10/2016 - 02:54 p.m.

    Flint switched its water source from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. The river water was not treated properly and lead from pipes leached into Flint homes. The city returned to Detroit's system in October while it awaits the completion of a separate pipeline to Lake Huron this summer.

  • lucib-bag
    2/11/2016 - 09:37 a.m.

    The lead came from the pipes because they didn't have a very reliable filtration system.

  • kaleyc-pla
    2/16/2016 - 08:21 a.m.

    This article discusses the efforts being made to test and clean up Flint, Michigan's drinking water. Testing several different sources -residential water testing, school testing, food service and restaurant testing, blood testing, is in place to try to make an overall statement on the quality of the water by mid April. Though over 5,000 homes have been tested and have had lead less than the "actionable Level," officials still encourage everyone to bring in a free water test kit, and want to make sure anyone with high blood lead levels gets their water tested.

    I think it is very good that the DEQ is taking time and resources to do this testing in an effort to clean the water. Because lead is very toxic, it's a big deal for citizens living in that area, especially because this is a recently occurring problem. I'm glad that the lead has not been dangerously high in the water that has been tested so far, but I think the tests should continue until the DEQ can assure the citizens the quality of water is safe. Also, I think this situation shows a lot of community engagement through people coming together and volunteering to help the DEQ run these tests, even having large companies donate supplies like bottled water.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    2/16/2016 - 01:43 p.m.

    With all the money that we as a country spend, this should not be happening. People should not have to bathe with bottled water. The government needs to put their money into this instead useless stuff.

  • lucasp-fel
    3/04/2016 - 02:23 p.m.

    The rising problem of Flint's water contamination can be traced back to 2014 when the city switched its water supply from that of Detroit's to the Flint River. Unfortunately, the river water was not treated properly and,"lead from pipes leached into Flint homes." This concerned almost all citizens of Flint, as the extremely hazardous material's effects are almost always fatal. The article was very informative and kept me wanting to read more. I will probably continue to research Flint's water supply issue on my own.

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