Flint installs system to increase chlorine in water

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Flint officials announced the city has installed a new temporary system this week to increase chlorine levels in the city’s water supply.

Testing on the system was completed Friday and it will be fully operational on Monday, officials said.

“Training is now being held on the new system and the chemicals to ensure proper operation and safety of the team,” said JoLisa McDay, Flint’s interim utilities administrator, in a statement Friday.

The move comes after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to the city expressing concerns related to the increased potential for chlorine decay in warmer temperatures. The city had the proper amount of chlorine in the system, but concern stemmed from the impact of increased water demands in warmer weather.

The federal agency had recommended the city install a new pumping system to increase chlorine levels by Friday. Chlorine is used in municipal systems to prevent disease-causing organisms from developing.

“I’m glad we were able to get everything in place by the target date provided by the EPA, and we made sure we took those steps while keeping residents’ safety at the forefront of our minds,” McDay said.

Earlier this week, the city announced it had obtained permits and equipment to put the new system in place.

Mayor Karen Weaver had requested assistance from the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to ensure the chemicals weren’t added to the water too quickly.

“The safety of Flint residents is our top priority,” Weaver said in the statement. “We want to do want’s [sic] best for the people of Flint, and we don’t want to repeat the mistakes made in the past.”

Officials with the EPA could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

DEQ Director Keith Creagh told The Detroit News earlier this week that chlorine treatment capacity was part of planned upgrades for Flint’s water treatment plant prior to its planned move to the newly formed Karegnondi Water Authority expected in 2017. The EPA’s request moved up the timetable.

Flint has had a troubled history with bacteria in its water after the city dropped its longtime provider, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, in April 2014 and began drawing its water from the Flint River. During the next 18 months, problems ranged from E. coli alerts and boiled water advisories to a spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says sickened 79 people and killed 12.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

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