FLINT (WJRT) - (02/28/18) - Since lead levels spiked following Flint's change in its water source in 2014 creating a tragic, man-made emergency, the lead and copper rule has been a major area of contention.
Now the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is set to talk about proposed reforms at a public hearing Thursday, March 1.
"It's going to determine if Flint can happen again. I mean, if a poisoning can happen in another city, which we all know is completely possible with this weak rule," Melissa Mays said.
Mays, an organizer with The Flint Rising Coalition, will be among those speaking at the hearing.
One major change MDEQ is suggesting involves the amount of exposure to lead in water, known as the lead action level. Right now 15 parts per billion (ppb) is the standard action level both federally and statewide. An action level exceeding that forces certain corrective steps. MDEQ is proposing to change the lead action level to 10 ppb, but it wouldn't take effect until January 1, 2024.
"Everyone knows that there is no safe level for lead, so for the fact that - they're keeping the action level at 15 until January of 2024 is absurd, and then they want to drop down to 10 and maybe 5 in the future. It's not good enough," Mays said.
MDEQ also wants to enact a household advisory level (HAL) of 40 ppb, which they say would trigger faster notices to residents.
"So if you send a test in and your lead is above 40 parts per billion - which is insane - then you'll get oh some kind of like expedient notification, possibly a filter, that kind of thing," Mays said.
You can read the full summary of MDEQ's draft plan on their website.
Flint Rising supports the National Resources Defense Council's must-haves, including complete lead line pipe replacements.
NRDC has helped the organization sponsor a bus to take 55 people from Flint to Lansing to be a part of the public hearing. Learn more about the free bus ride here.
The hearing is happening Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Lansing Center. The public comment period gets started at 6 p.m.