Has the damage been done? Experts weigh in on switching back to Detroit Water System

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FLINT (WJRT) - (10/08/15) - In two weeks, Kettering Professor Laura Sullivan says cleaner water will begin flowing through Flint's faucets. But has the damage been done?

"The Flint River water is more corrosive because of the content of chloride in it. Once we make the switch and we begin to dilute the Flint River water in the system with the Detroit water that is far less corrosive, then day by day, there will be less of a tendency for the water to leach or pull metal ions from the pipe," Sullivan said.

For now, Sullivan says residents should continue using their water filters.

"After a month of diluting and washing that Flint River water out and bringing the Detroit water, which is far more stable and far more predictable, we can be sure that we don't have to worry about that lead content after 30 days," Sullivan said.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says additional treatments will be added to reduce the lead threat.

"There will be a treatment and a number of different additives, phosphate is one that is a corrosion addictive, but it's safe. It doesn't create a public health concern," said Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Experts believe removing lead pipes does not have to happen immediately. However, it should remain a top priority if we care about the future of Flint's water quality.

"There was a period of time where lead was added to municipal pipes because we understood at the time that that would make those pipes tougher. It was before we understood how dangerous lead was in the water. We need to identify those pipes and over time we need to replace those pipes with pipes that don't have lead in them," Sullivan said.

Despite all of the challenges the city faces with lead, researchers tell us switching back to Detroit is a major accomplishment.

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