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Flint's Water Finally Meets EPA Standards, Does Yours?

Virginia Tech

Two years ago, Virginia Tech researchers discovered dangerous levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water. Now they’ve released what might be the final update from their water sampling project. 

Virginia Tech College of Engineering Professor Marc Edwards says Flint, Michigan’s water now meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for lead and other toxins in water.  But, he adds, that’s not saying much.

“It’s acknowledged that this is an out of date standard, and meeting the action level is nothing to brag about.”

Edwards leads a team of clean water crusaders including Virginia Tech students and citizen scientists in Flint.  They found improvement in a series of 5 tap water tests in Flint over the past 2 years.  But as Edwards points out, that doesn’t mean the water crisis is over.

"If you define the end of the water crisis as having water quality parameters back in the range considered normal for other cities with old lead pipes, the answer is Yes. Obviously, there is still a crisis of confidence among Flint residents that’s not going to be restored any time soon. That’s beyond the reach of science to solve, and can only be addressed by years of trustworthy behavior by public officials who, lost that trust deservedly, in the first place."

Virginia Tech is now working with other cities around the country that have high lead levels in their drinking water. In Virginia, where many people have well water, about 1 in 5 have detectable levels of lead.

Erin Ling, who runs the Virginia Household Water Quality Program, points out that in places where the water is acidic, such as the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge, lead can leach from certain pipe fittings. There are inexpensive lead filters that can solve the problem and she says that’s why it’s important to have your well  tested.

Here’s the Virginia Household Water Quality Program’s water test schedule.  If a program isn’t scheduled for your area soon, you cancontact them to help you learn how to do your water test.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.
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