- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Flint residents should be warned of the potential risk of increased lead in drinking water when crews do underground work that could affect pipes, according to a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The recommendation was included in an EPA report released Wednesday about high lead levels in drinking water at three homes. The EPA said the report is being sent to the National Drinking Water Advisory Council for discussion next month, The Flint Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1PoU9hP ).

The report warns that lead can not only get from aging lead lines into individual homes, but can spread to galvanized pipe or interior plumbing. Lead that builds up inside non-lead pipes can be released when it is disturbed by construction or other work.

According to the report, this has “the potential to release large amounts of scale and sediment that could pose an immediate and acute health hazard to the residents.”

Flint switched from Detroit’s water system last year to Flint River water in a cost-cutting move while under state emergency financial management. The Flint River was supposed to be an interim source until the city could join a new system getting water from Lake Huron that is scheduled to be completed next year.

Residents complained, however, about the taste, smell and appearance of river water coming into their homes and businesses. Officials long maintained the water met safety standards, but it was later determined that corrosive river water was drawing lead from aging pipes.

Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech researcher who helped raise concerns about Flint’s water system, said the EPA report confirms previous studies that have warned of the effect of disturbing water pipes where lead has built up in scale and sediment.

“I think it’s a big admission that these lead pipes are dangerous,” Edwards said.

The report was released a day after voters ousted Flint’s mayor amid a fallout over the city’s drinking water problems. In Tuesday’s election, newcomer Karen Weaver beat incumbent Dayne Walling, who led the city amid the public health emergency.

Walling and other officials blamed state and federal agencies for the city’s water problems. The city has since switched back to Detroit’s water system.

Meanwhile, a Republican legislative leader on Thursday resisted a Democratic leader’s formal request for legislative hearings about the water crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said he does not want to “duplicate” the work of an independent advisory task force formed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“They’ll do good work,” he told reporters. He also gave “very, very high marks” to state Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant, saying “I believe they will find solutions and they will find the things that need to be corrected.”

But Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint, who requested the hearings, said the reviews underway are either agencies investigating themselves or outside experts without the subpoena powers or accountability that lawmakers have.

“Our work is not complete until we fully exercise our obligation to ask the tough questions and enact the right solutions,” he said.

Also Thursday, the city said it received approval from the DEQ to put corrosion control agents in the water it buys from Detroit, with the expectation that the controls will further reduce damage caused to water mains and service lines.

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Information from: The Flint Journal, https://www.mlive.com/flint


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