EPA highlights Flint water crisis highlights over past four years

New training program at Delta College designed for high school students to learn specialized water system jobs
Michigan's attorney general announced the $600 million settlement Thursday.
Michigan's attorney general announced the $600 million settlement Thursday.(File)
Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 12:52 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency highlighted significant progress in responding to the Flint water crisis over the past four years during a press conference on Monday.

EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede also announced a new partnership to train specialized workers needed to staff Flint’s water department.

“Thanks to years of hard work, Flint’s water infrastructure has greatly improved,” Thiede said. “The important steps that Flint is taking will make the city a model for other communities on how to safeguard residents from lead exposure.”

He noted progress on the following initiatives announced after the water crisis:

  • The $100 million citywide water service line replacement project is nearly complete. More than 26,000 water service lines have been excavated and 9,700 made of lead or galvanized metal were replaced. Fewer than 500 water lines remain to be checked.
  • A landmark study of optimal corrosion control dosages in drinking water has been completed in Flint.
  • Flint is ahead of schedule for completing periodic testing for lead in the drinking water at 60 homes every six months, including some homes that still have lead water service lines. That testing regimen will be completed soon, as the number of residences with lead water service lines decreases.
  • Flint and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy recently finalized an agreement documenting how the city will continue meeting Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
  • Significant progress has been made on infrastructure improvement projects to upgrade Flint’s water system, including work on a backup drinking water source. A pipeline to the backup source should be completed by May while a new chemical feed building at the Flint Water Plant should be completed next November.

“Partnerships are key to building a better, stronger community. Working with the EPA and our other partners, we will continue moving this community forward,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “We still have work to do, but we are proud of the progress we are making on behalf of the residents of Flint.”

Flint and many other water utilities nationwide has struggled to recruit skilled workers to operate its water system. The city, EPA and Delta College announced a partnership on Monday to train Flint high school students for specialized work on water infrastructure.

“Delta College will introduce students to this important and rewarding career opportunity, giving them a clear path to earn a degree in this field and potentially pursue a long-term career at the Flint Public Water System,” said Dr. Jean Goodnow, president of Delta College. “We’re pleased to be involved in this partnership because Delta is one of the few colleges in Michigan to offer a two-year program focused on providing the education and training necessary to work at a public water or wastewater treatment facility.”

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