Flint's Water Operator Hiring Creeps Forward

Progress moves slowly ahead as Flint, Michigan, prepares to hire water treatment plant staff.

The City of Flint, Michigan, is slowly moving ahead with a plan to increase its water treatment plant staff. According to a report on Mlive.com, the city promised to post 16 job openings by the week of March 21. However, as of April 5, only two positions had been posted to the city’s website, including a water distribution operator trainee and a water plant laboratory technician.

In a Feb. 19 letter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed concern over the treatment plant’s staffing levels and the staff’s ability to apply an appropriate corrosion control program. On March 16, Mayor Karen Weaver promised a hiring increase that would include two lab technicians, four water plant operators and 10 water distribution system operators by June 2016.

In a March 29 letter, the EPA again expressed its concern for staffing requirements, stating:

“Although Respondents’ responses (both in their letters and postings on the MDEQ website) flag individual components the city has undertaken to control corrosion, these efforts (i.e., adding orthophosphate and residual chlorine) do not represent a comprehensive approach to minimize lead concentrations. The corrosion control treatment plan must apply to the entire distribution system; it must address ongoing operation and maintenance to guide any necessary adjustments and set performance goals for determining optimized treatment.”

In 2005, when Flint was using the Flint River as a backup water source, the city had 40 employees at the water treatment plant. When the city began using the Flint River as its primary water source, staffing decreased to 24 water treatment employees.

The City of Flint has already hired JoLisa McDay as the new water plant supervisor. McDay previously worked as the manager of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and as a water utility supervisor for Ann Arbor.


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