Flint resident who gave Snyder water back on bottles

Jacob Carah
Special to The Detroit News

Flint — Cheryl Canty, whose home Gov. Rick Snyder visited in April to draw filtered water from her tap to drink, says she is no longer consuming the filtered water.

“I’m not so much concerned about the lead as I am about the possibility of bacteria,” she said. “It’s getting really hot out, and that’s something I don’t want to risk.”

Canty, 52, said her fear arose when workers from the Environmental Protection Agency stopped by her home on the city’s east side more than a month and a half ago told her they wanted to do a chlorine test on her water.

“It was two men and they were concerned about the chlorine getting through my pipes’ system,” Canty said. “They came out and stayed for over a half-hour and they could only get a trace amount (of chlorine) out.”

Snyder in April filled up on three gallons of water while visiting the home of Canty and her husband, Todd. The home is part of the state’s sentinel site testing program, which has been monitoring the changes in lead levels at hundreds of homes in the city.

Canty’s home has a lead service line and, according to the governor’s office, previously tested higher than the federal action level for lead of 15 part per billion without filtration.

The governor committed to drink filtered tap water drawn from the city amid growing outrage from residents.

“I had Flint water yesterday,” Snyder said Tuesday. “Again, I’ve got a supply and I’m going to use up good water that I have at my house.”

Snyder repeated adamantly he will “continue to drink the Flint water supply that I have because it’s good water.”

The EPA recently 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.

Chlorine is used in municipal systems to prevent disease-causing organisms from developing. Those organisms increase in number during warmer months, especially in stagnant water.

Flint officials recently installed a new temporary system to increase chlorine levels in the city’s water supply.

“On top of having a lead line, we have to worry about what they say is a possible ‘dead end,’ ” Canty said.

Canty said the EPA tested her water for bacteria and those results came back negative. However, her concern as that those tests were performed “when it was cooler.”

“I’ve been to my neighbors homes, I can smell the chlorine in their water. It’s obvious they have done things to push the chlorine up,” she said. “Our water just doesn’t smell like that.”

The EPA confirmed it tested Canty’s house on May 11.

“All filtered water was non-detect for lead, but they did have a low chlorine reading there, so they collected a bacterial sample and flushed the lines,” EPA spokeswoman Monica Lee said Wednesday. “The bacterial sample came back negative.”

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.

Canty said she believes the water has been a factor in her health.

“It’s scary, I had pneumonia-like symptoms before. It hit me in the spring of the year before last and didn’t go away till late August. It came back in the fall and then again last spring,” she said.