Water testing to begin at Flint Community Schools this weekend

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FLINT (WJRT) (1/19/2018) - Water testing will begin at Flint Community Schools buildings this weekend while officials from the district and the state continue negotiating a long-term plan.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will kickoff a long-term effort of testing and flushing the drinking water systems inside each school.

Staff and students in Flint schools have been required to drink bottled water since the water emergency was declared two years ago. The district, medical experts and state officials have been negotiating water testing protocol ever since.

"We're excited that they have finally set a date to do the testing for the water in the Flint Community Schools. It's about time," said Karen Christian, president of United Teachers of Flint. "We need to actually know where everything is. We have replaced all of the water faucets, which is where they thought all of the lead was coming from to begin with so hopefully in these new rounds of testing they will show that there is less and less lead in the water."

The discussions over how the long-term testing and flushing plan will be carried out continues among the Department of Environmental Quality, city of Flint, Flint Technical Advisory Board, the local medical community and school administrators.

Staff, students and parents from Flint schools also will have a significant amount of input on what the long-term testing and flushing plan will involve.

“We remain firm in our expectation that rigorous testing be conducted to the satisfaction of the medical community,” said Superintendent Bilal Tawwab. "In the meantime, the district will continue to secure bottled water for our students until we have undoubted assurance the water from the tap is safe to drink.”

The district has agreements with Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and Walmart to provide the bottled water for staff and students through the end of this school year in June 2018.

"We must do what is best for the health and well-being of our children," Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said. "And I will continue to seek input from the medical community before any major changes are determined regarding water distribution in Flint.”

said Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and former interim director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “Data from extensive testing of the Flint water distribution system shows that the city’s water quality is similar to other cities across the state and country. We are committed to support the city of Flint as it continues to provide quality water to its residents.”

The long-term plan for the district’s water will outline:
-- Detailed water monitoring and maintenance protocols and schedules.
-- Guidance on flushing of pipes and filter replacement or maintenance as deemed necessary given the condition of the water system.
-- Technical assistance.
-- Both regulatory and independent oversight to ensure such protocols are sustained by associated state, local and school system entities.

At the same time, Flint Community Schools is receiving $1 million from the Michigan Department of Education to develop a model School Water Training Program, which will include best practices for flushing and testing water systems in all Michigan schools.

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