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EPA: Flint hasn’t proven it can manage its water system

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

The city of Flint has not shown it has adequately trained staff to run its water system, according to federal officials.

A letter sent to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver over the weekend also outlined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s concerns about Flint’s ability to move forward on line replacement. The letter, signed by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, states Flint “has not yet demonstrated ... that it has an adequate number of qualified personnel in place to properly manage its water system.”

Flint is preparing to begin replacement of lead water lines after getting training assistance from Lansing — a city that began replacing its own lines years ago. In her letter McCarthy, insists that EPA officials be given the chance to review the replacement techniques being used.

On Monday, Kristine Moore, Weaver’s spokeswoman, said (the mayor) “looks forward to working with the EPA and the state and federal governments to build the additional capacity needed for Flint to comply with all state and federal rules for safe drinking water.”

McCarthy also stressed the need for comprehensive corrosion controls, the lack of which has helped put Flint in the middle of a lead contamination dilemma that has gained national attention. The state failed to require corrosion measures, designed to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water, when Flint changed its water source in April 2014.

“Even after all of the lead service lines are replaced, occupants will still need to rely on filtered or bottled water until the city’s system has been optimized for corrosion control, as other plumbing materials used in homes can contain leachable lead, such as leaded solder and brass fixtures in valves,” McCarthy wrote. “This time frame may be beyond the three months identified in the current fast-start plan.”


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