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Flint officials want more time before adding more chemicals to city water supply

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Flint Interim Utilities Administrator Jolisa McDay

The city of Flint may have equipment in place by the end of the week to improve chlorine levels in city water.   

But it may not be operating.

The Environmental Protection Agency sent the city of Flint a letter last week saying there is an “urgent need” to have the ability to boost chlorine levels in the city’s water supply. They set a date of Friday June 10th to have equipment “installed and operational.”

Chlorine and other chemicals are added to water supplies to kill bacteria, like Legionella.  Warm summer weather helps bacteria to grow. 

In the last few years, there has been a spike of Legionnaire's Disease cases in Genesee County, which may be connected to Flint’s troubled water system. 

But Flint Interim Utilities Administrator Jolisa McDay is in no hurry to start adding more chemicals to the city’s water supply.  

Flint’s water system was damaged after the city switched to the Flint River as the source of its tap water.  Flint has been getting treated water from Detroit’s water system since last October.  But the protective bio-film layer damaged by the corrosive river water is still not quite restored.

McDay worries adding more chemicals to kill bacteria may end up damaging the fragile bio-film within the pipes. 

“We do not want to be an experiment by feeding additional levels of chemicals that have not been explored in our system,” says McDay.

McDay wants to develop an ‘incremental’ plan with the EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality before adding the additional chemicals.

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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