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Flint officials say city water is safe to drink, but some residents are skeptical

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint city leaders are trying to quell concerns about the safety of the city’s water.

Concerns were raised last year by a string of water advisories, along with complaints of discolored, smelly water flowing from home faucets. 

This week, Flint residents received notices that their water system violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. Tests conducted last year revealed a higher an acceptable level of trihalomethane or THM.  THM is a byproduct of the chlorination process.  

THM has been linked to cancer and other health problems. 

Claire McClinton is with the Flint Democracy Defense League. The league has been pushing for months for changes in the city’s water department. 

McClinton is upset that city officials are saying the water is safe to drink, while at the same time advising families with infants, elderly members and  people with immune deficiencies should check with the doctors before drinking Flint’s water.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says the city's water is safe. "My family and I drink it and use it every day," Walling told reporters Tuesday.

“It’s not safe to drink … bottom line,” says McClinton. 

“The city water is safe to drink.  My family and I drink it and use it every day,” Flint Mayor Dayne Walling told reporters at a news conference at the city’s water treatment plant. 

The problems with Flint’s water system have appeared to grow since the city switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River last year.

Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft admits there have been issues since the switch. But he insists, in the long term, the city is moving in the right direction.

“Sometimes you have unintended consequences,” says Croft, “The decision to move to (the Karegnondi Water Authority) we believe will be a great decision for the city of Flint.”

Construction of the pipeline, which will bring water from Lake Huron to Flint, is expected to be complete sometime in 2016.

Until then, the city of Flint will continue to tap the Flint River as its source of fresh drinking water.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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