Flint leaders urge residents to drink filtered tap water

Flint residents are skeptical about the safety of the city's filtered tap water despite the city's assurances that it is safe.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:26 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) – The city of Flint is urging people to drink filtered tap water until the replacement of all residential lead service lines is complete.

“It’s too soon. It seems like they’re saying we won the race, and there’s still several laps to go,” said Melissa Mays with Flint Rising.

Flint Rising is an advocacy organization led by Flint residents fighting for water, environmental, and climate justice. Mays scoffed at the notion of using filtered tap water instead of bottled water.

“Medical advice has told us that the elderly, pregnant women, children under the age of six, and immunocompromised need to be using bottled water,” Mays said.

The city of Flint, the EPA, and EGLE are advising residents to continue using free water filters until all residential lead service lines are replaced citywide, saying that bottled water has no health benefits over filtered tap water.

However, Mays said the work to replace those service lines could knock large amounts of lead loose, damaging tap water filters.

“The tap filters can be ruined right away if they get hit with more than 150 ppb, that’s all they’re rated for,” Mays said. “I just think that the city should do everything possible, use all the funding available to protect public health and keep the bottled water going.”

Flint residents at City Hall said the chances of them using filtered tap water are all dried up.

“You want us to drink filtered water out of pipes that you haven’t even fixed yet,” one resident said.

“I don’t even let my dogs drink that water,” said another.

“The water isn’t all the way right, so you should be able to still have it to where you can get other water with buying the stuff that you can buy yourself,” said another.

Another resident said, “I’ll never trust it again.”

According to the Flint Filter Study, Brita and Pur point-of-use faucet filters effectively remove lead when installed and maintained properly. The city said the latest recorded lead levels in the water is 10ppb, which is well below the federal action level of 15ppb.

Despite that, Mays said she is adamant that bottled water is still needed and necessary.

“If the bottled water wasn’t necessary, people wouldn’t have been waiting for hours, hours and hours in their car every single week to go pick up bottled water. That should signify the city should listen that there’s still a problem,” Mays said.