News Briefs: Flint Water Official Says He Raised Red Flag

In this week's water and wastewater news, a Flint water official testifies, Ohio seeks to reduce notification time for lead contamination and Idaho asks water utilities to review lead policies and paperwork.
News Briefs: Flint Water Official Says He Raised Red Flag

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During a legislative hearing last week, Flint water treatment plant official Mike Glasgow testified he had reservations about the city’s water source switch to the Flint River. He stated he had wanted to double his staff and run the plant on a test basis for six months, but the state-appointed emergency manager denied those requests.

At the time, Glasgow was the lab supervisor. He has since become the city utilities administrator.

The city has been the source of national attention after residents experienced lead poisoning when the city switched to the more acidic Flint River. That water leached lead from pipes into the drinking water.

The hearing, which was held by the Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus, lasted more than nine hours and included testimonies from Flint residents as well as county and city officials.

During testimony, Glasgow said he thought the water source switch was a “bad decision,” stating that although he expected corrosion-control chemicals to be used, the state didn’t require the chemicals. Also, he testified the plant did not have the necessary equipment to add the phosphates, so an upgrade would have been necessary.

“I felt like we had our marching orders,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “There was a deadline we had to meet. I almost feel like everything was just happening so fast … so many different things to look at … it was somewhat easy for these things to be overlooked.”

Flint residents expressed their anger over the issue.

“Every person who got up here and spoke was paid to do a job,” said Bishop Bernadel Jefferson of Flint’s Faith Deliverance Church. “Not one of them … did the job that they were paid to do.”

Source: Detroit Free Press

Ohio Requests Faster Notice of Lead-Contaminated Water

In Ohio, environmental regulators are responding to the Flint water crisis with a request to speed up lead alert notifications. Under the newly proposed system, water utilities would have two days to alert residents if lead levels are above federal limits. The current federal law allows water utilities up to 30 days to complete the notification process.

“We say that is too long for people not to know,” says Craig Butler, director of the state’s EPA, in an ABC News report.

The new plan would also help cities map out lead service lines and assist schools with replacing drinking fountains and faucets with lead parts.

According to Butler, the federal guidelines are not consistent with the public’s expectations for safe water. The U.S. EPA is set to review the federal lead rule, which could take another year.

Source: ABC News

Idaho Water Utilities Asked to Review Lead Levels

Idaho regulators have requested that every water utility in the state verify its water is safe from lead. The request, made by Jerri Henry of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, gives utilities until July to complete the work.

“(The monitoring efforts) aren’t required, but they make sense,” Henry says in the Idaho Statesman.

Of the 900 drinking systems in the state, the DEQ knows of at least three that currently are out of compliance with federal lead levels. The recommendation for all utilities to review paperwork and treatment processes comes on the heels of the Flint water crisis, which caused lead poisoning when the city switched its water source.

Source: Idaho Statesman


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