NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCES Update on Flint, MI Water Problems By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue 2017 will be a year of transition for Flint. The city pivots from an emergency response to elevated lead levels in drinking water and children’s blood to something more mundane: long-term management of a chronic public health and infrastructure problem. Flint’s entire system — water mains and lead laterals that connect to homes — needs repair, says Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor who helped bring Flint’s dirty water to national attention. The federal government approved in December $US 100 million for lead pipe replacement. City and state officials face difficult choices about how to spend the money for the most public benefit. “Even if we wave a magic wand and the lead pipes go away, Flint still has an infrastructure crisis,” Edwards told Circle of Blue. Its population cut in half since the 1960s, Flint continues to see residents flee. With fewer people to pay for maintenance of aging water mains, the city has one of the highest water rates in the nation. Main breaks invite contaminants into the water pipes. Stagnant water in pipes breeds disease, like the Legionnaires outbreak that killed a dozen people in the Flint area starting in 2014. None of those troubles will be fixed just by replacing lead laterals, Edwards says. Several measures in the last year and a half largely tamed the astronomical levels of lead in household drinking water. Flint reconnected with Detroit’s water system and applied a coat of organophosphates to the insides of water mains to minimize pipe corrosion. Testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Virginia Tech show that the actions reduced lead concentrations to the point that Flint now meets federal regulations. More than 90 percent of tested homes — the threshold for passing the federal Lead and Copper Rule — are under the 15 parts per billion (ppb) standard. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s most recent sampling results, conducted on November 17, showed only 10 of 149 homes with lead levels above 15 ppb.   This study will also be posted on the 2017 Actions and Activities Page of the Sustainable Water Resources Site at   Tim Smith Sustainable Water Resources Coordinator Government Web Site, Sustainable Water Resources Site,