Streamline - Summer 2016 - (Page 31)

Lead BY SCOTT MCNALLY, SOURCE WATER TECHNICIAN about Flint, Michigan have raised the issue of water quality to many citizens who would have not normally considered it. Water quality in Flint, Michigan would most definitely be considered an outlier, so much so that President Obama had to declare a state of emergency. It all started in April 2014 when city officials decided to stop purchasing water from Detroit and use the Flint River instead. Residents of the city all know that the Flint River has a long history of pollution from urban runoff and industrial waste. Rhonda Kelso, who is 52 and has spent her life in Flint, referred to the decision to use the Flint River, saying "I thought it was one of those Onion articles...We already knew the Flint River was toxic waste." THE RECENT HEADLINES The problem begins with the water chemistry itself. The Flint River is highly acidic, a large part from decades of urban runoff containing road salts. The river also has high levels of organic material and bacteria that require added chlorine. The unusually large amounts of chlorine needed to treat the water, combined with the dissolved road salts, make the water leaving the plant highly corrosive. This usually means that corrosion control chemicals would be added to keep the water from corroding the distribution pipes. However, in Flint, they did not add these chemicals and whether that decision was entirely deliberate or accidental is still unclear. One thing that is known for sure: the acidic water corroded iron and lead pipes, exposing thousands of residents to high levels of heavy metals and other toxins. For LeeAnne Walters, a Flint resident and mother, the problems began with minor hair loss and skin rashes after her and the kids would use the shower. The problems increased when her 3-year-old twins experienced extreme abdominal pain and one of the twins has since stopped growing. The maximum lead concentration allowed in drinking water by EPA standards is 15 parts per billion. When the water from her tap became brown and murky, she demanded city officials act. A city employee was sent to the Walters home where they ran the tap and took a sample after a couple of minutes. The results showed her water had a lead concentration of 400 ppb. However, upon further research, she became suspicious that the city was flushing the water lines before testing. After she made contact with the EPA, they sent a team to investigate. They sampled the Walters tap water without pre-flushing and found a staggering lead concentration of 13,200 parts per billion. Even water with half this concentration of lead is considered hazardous waste by the EPA. Like many homes and buildings in Flint, the Walters home is connected to lead distribution lines. The corrosive water from the Flint River (some sources say 19 times more corrosive than Detroit's water) reacted with the pipes, allowing the lead to leach into the water. The fact that corrosion control chemicals were not added could have been to political/budgetary issues, operator error, lack of training or a deliberate action to save the city money. Systems should be aware of the presence of lead lines and treat the water accordingly. This is not just an issue with Flint as there are still lead distribution lines across the country. If you live in an older home, you may want to have a professional check your water lines. If you do have lead lines, it is not the end of the world. Try to limit hot showers and flush the water taps every morning before drinking or bathing. The corrosive water from the Flint River (some sources say 19 times more corrosive than Detroit's water) reacted with the pipes, allowing the lead to leach into the water. 31

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Summer 2016

From the President: Life’s a Dance
From the Executive Director: Drum Roll Please...
VRWA’s 2016 Conference Highlights
VRWA Says “Until We Meet Again
System Efficiency and Production: Time for a Change???
Confessions of the Chronically Late
OSHA’S Recordkeeping Rule
Revenue and Reasonable Rates
When and How to Use Piping Restraints
Retaining Operators: Is it Really Just About $$?
NRWA Recap
What is WaterPAC?
Note from Myrica Keiser, Executive Director, VRWA
Throwing My Loop: The Secret to Creativity
VRWA Members Corner
eLearning Benefits
Membership Application
Benefits for VRWA Members
Mail Bag
Board of Directors
VRWA Committees
Index to Advertisers/

Streamline - Summer 2016