Flint Community Schools ready for state to begin water testing once plan in place

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FLINT (WJRT) (1/3/2018) - Tap water in Flint Community Schools hasn't been tested for over a year, but the district's superintendent says he is ready for it to begin once a plan is in place.

Bilal Tawwab

Since ABC12 first reported on the lack of testing in schools back in early December, the state has updated its website to include testing results for non-public schools. That testing was conducted in November 2017.

Now parents and students must wait as Flint Community Schools and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality iron out a date to get testing done in public schools.

Flint schools Superintendent Bilal Tawwab said during a press conference on Wednesday that the district stands ready to work with state officials on testing.

“The district has not and will not refuse any request from the state to test water in our buildings," Tawwab said. "Quite the opposite, the district has requested a long-term plan from the state, including multiple rounds of testing to be conducted to the satisfaction of the medical community and that the data is shared on an ongoing basis.”

When asked about that long term plan, MDEQ said they've been collaborating with federal, state, county and city organizations and committees to develop "what a best practices guide would consist of for the schools."

However, there is still no timeframe for when the testing will begin, which would be required before transitioning away from bottled water.

Tawwab has been consulting with an advisory team for the past six months to discuss school water testing, monitoring, maintenance and transitioning from bottled water to filtered water in the buildings.

Tawwab said the schools will not allow kids to drink from the tap until they are satisfied with the safety of the water -- and consult with the medical and health community.

A coalition of companies, including Nestle, Walmart, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are supplying bottled water to the schools. That coalition is in place until June 2018.

Mayor Weaver reiterated the need to hear from the medical community who have been in the midst of this emergency right with Flint kids and citizens. Pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Reynolds wants the school system and the state to get it right.

"We don't need to rush this through. We've been down that road before and we do have a process through the city, our Flint Community Schools and FWICC water quality sub-committee to handle this in a proper fashion," Dr. Reynolds said.

A 90s-era federal law does not make the testing mandatory.

"The 1992 lead and copper rules did not require that school water systems be tested directly. We have the opportunity now to setup a protocol that the rest of the nation can follow," Dr. Reynolds said.

As a member of a number of groups, including the the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee (FWICC) and City of Flint Technical Advisory Council, he believes there is a process in place to make sure the water meets safety standards. Part of that includes a FWICC water quality sub-committee.

"Which is made up of engineers, health department and other independent experts as well as state department heads so that we do have a mechanism where by we can formulate a plan, review the pilot, review the data and then institute a model plan," Dr. Reynolds said.

According to MDEQ, Flint Community Schools have been tested before as late as November 2016.

They say there have been previous extensive flushing and testing, replacement of fixtures and installation of over 1,400 filters in the schools, day care and elder care facilities.
December 31.

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