Total lead pipe replacement not part of MDEQ's plan - WNEM TV 5

Total lead pipe replacement not part of MDEQ's plan

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

At this point, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality isn't sure if replacing all of Flint's water pipes is the solution.

"What individuals occasionally miss is if you just dig up lines without data you could make it worse not better," said Keith Creagh.

Creagh said part of his agency's six-point plan is to use phosphate to act as a shield between water and the lead pipes. Although he concedes some of the tubing may need to be replaced.

"We will find some areas where it may not work. In those areas we should replace those lead service lines," Creagh said.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is looking to secure more federal funding for Flint's water system. Saying the vehicle city's infrastructure needs drastic improvement.

"I think it's very clear that we're going to have to replace pipes. I don't know how many have to be replaced but I’m sure that's part of what is absolutely going to be necessary," Peters said.

He said the Vehicle City’s infrastructure needs drastic improvement.

"Clearly when you have this highly corrosive water that did not have any sort of mitigating chemicals in it that led to the corrosion you're going to see some significant damage to those pipes," Peters said. "The people of Flint deserve to have new pipes. They deserve to have replacements in those areas."

Creagh said he wants everyone to know he will do what it takes to get Flint out of its water crisis.

"Well trust is earned. It's not given and we broke that trust. And so it's every day, every action, every time," Creagh said.

The MDEQ's 6-part strategy was released on Sunday:

  • Residential water testing: At-home water testing done by residents is key in guiding experts to areas of concern.
    To date, of 4,924 total residential water samples, tests show that 93.7 percent of homes are below the actionable level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead:
    • 4,616 samples at 15 ppb or less for lead (93.7%);
    • 4,179 samples at 5 ppb or less for lead (84.9%);
    • 308 samples over 15 ppb for lead (6.3%);
    • 37 samples over 150 ppb for lead (0.75%); and
    • 26 samples over 1,300 ppb for copper (0.5%).
  • Water samples will only be accepted by using the official water testing kits provided at the water resource sites and by the water response teams. To process these samples as efficiently as possible, the Michigan Department DEQ lab is operating seven days per week and is capable of processing 1,000 tests per day. Residents can access these reports online at www.mi.gov/FlintWater. Results are mailed to each residence tested.
  • School testing: Michigan DEQ in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has tested all 13 public schools in the city and continues to test nonpublic schools, children’s centers and senior centers. The state will retest the public schools once it has completed replacing water fixtures. Fixture replacement has begun at Freeman School, which will be retested after water flushing happens within the next week.
  • Food service/restaurant provider testing: Michigan DEQ is working in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to test establishments and ensure they are using water filters, flushing water systems properly and using the correct food and water standards.
  • Blood level testing: Michigan DEQ is working in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to ensure that residents with high blood lead levels have their water tested for lead. Homes with high water lead levels are provided additional services by MDHHS and the Genesee County Health Department to ensure residents’ exposure to lead is minimized.
  • Flint water distribution system testing: Michigan DEQ and the City of Flint are working to monitor and test the quality of the water as it travels throughout the city’s water distribution system. Additionally, sentinel sites are being established to set a baseline for data collection.

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