Flint water passes quality test thanks to 'extremely protective' measures

Published: Oct. 3, 2019 at 6:37 PM EDT
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(10/3/2019) - Flint's drinking water continues to test well below the federal action level for lead and copper.

Now, the state's top water expert is breaking down the numbers.

"This is just validation that the water chemistry and the things that we're doing with the water in Flint is extremely protective and you know, the same across the state," Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division Director Eric Oswald said.

He took on the role in May 2017. It's been a tough 2-and-a-half years at EGLE.

"You know, I saw and heard what was going on in Flint," he said. "I'm a native of Michigan. I served 12 years of active duty and 17 years in the (National) Guard; and, I didn't like what was happening."

So the civil engineer applied for the job, hoping to make a change. Now he can say Flint's drinking water has tested below the action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule consistently for the past three years.

The January to June sample shows a result of 3 parts-per-billion. Oswald said that's from the first liter of water out of the tap after it's sat stagnant for 6 hours.

For the state's standards, the water tested at 6 parts-per-billion. That sample comes from the fifth liter out of the tap.

"We think in most cases that fifth liter will hit what's in contact with the lead service line," he said, adding it's a more accurate picture.

"We certainly hope nothing like Flint happens again, but we're certainly prepared," Oswald said. "We've made a lot of good changes. We work a lot more closely with some of our partners now. So I think we're in a much better position."