Michigan governor Rick Snyder announced yesterday (April 18) that he will drink Flint water for a month. Residents of the city have been drinking lead-tainted water for two years, due to what a recent independent report called “a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction and environmental injustice.”
Experts say that while the water quality in Flint is getting better, it will improve more quickly if residents use it, which helps to flush pieces of lead out of the pipes. They say the water is safe to drink when filtered, and provide the following guidelines:
Guidance for using filters
The city of Flint, the state and the EPA are all encouraging residents to use filtered water for drinking and cooking, as the team of experts agrees that data proves it is safe to use filtered water as a primary source of drinking water.
Test results indicate that filters are extremely effective in removing lead from water, even at very high levels
Residents should be sure to properly maintain these filters to make sure they are operating correctly by replacing used cartridges and only running cold water through the filters.
Step 1: Run cold water at the highest flow in the bathtub for 5 minutes. Do not use the showerhead because it has a lower flow rate.
Step 2: Bypass or remove your filter, then run cold water at the highest flow from the kitchen faucet for 5 minutes. Remember to turn your filter back on or reinstall it when done. EPA testing has shown filters are effective at removing even very high levels of lead.
Step 3: Do this every day for 14 days.
Residents need to clean the aerators of sink faucets once per week to remove any pieces of lead that may be or may become trapped inside the screen.
Aerators are the small screens which screw inside the opening of a faucet. Their job is to improve water flow and to catch any particles that may be floating loose in a home’s pipes.
But many residents are skeptical, which led Snyder to visit a Flint home yesterday where tests have found lead levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of 15 ppb. Snyder reportedly filled bottles of filtered water from the home’s kitchen, and plans to replenish his supply weekly so that he can use it for drinking and cooking for the next 30 days.
“I completely understand why some Flint residents are hesitant to drink the water and I am hopeful I can alleviate some of the skepticism and mistrust by putting words to action,” Snyder said in a statement. “Flint residents made it clear that they would like to see me personally drink the water, so today I am fulfilling that request. And I will continue drinking Flint water at work and at home for at least 30 days.”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is not impressed. According to The Detroit News, Weaver doesn’t think Snyder will get the same experience as her constituents, who are predominantly Black. “I hope it’s filtered,” she said this morning. “The other thing I need to say about that is lucky for him that he can drink filtered water.” She continued: “We’ve been dealing with this for two years, and we had to drink this water when it wasn’t filtered.”
She also said that if Snyder really wants to know what it’s like in Flint, “he needs to come and stay here for 30 days and live with us and see what it’s like to use bottled or filtered water when you want to cook and when you want to brush your teeth.”
Weaver also took the chance to remind Snyder and others that Flint residents are also forced to shower with the lead-tainted water, and that him drinking the water doesn’t change the situation on the ground. “Drinking filtered water does not impress us at all,” Weaver said. “We need the funds because our goal has not changed, which is new pipes for the people of the city of Flint.”