Flint water crisis: Residents urged to run taps for 10 minutes a day

By Martin Smith
Residents have been told to "flush for Flint" in a bid to help clean out the city's water pipes. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI
Residents have been told to "flush for Flint" in a bid to help clean out the city's water pipes. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

FLINT, Mich., May 13 (UPI) -- Officials have come up with a new plan to help anxious residents in Flint. Mich., improve the quality of their water -- run the taps for 10 minutes a day.

They want them to do this each day for the next two weeks.


Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on Thursday launched a campaign designed to flush out lead particles in the city's water system that continue to reach unsafe levels.

As an inducement, Snyder said the water used by residents in the month of May will be free.

"With respect to the water portion of the water and sewer bill, there won't be a charge," the governor told reporters at Flint City Hall.

"The flushing program is another necessary step to fixing the city's broken water system," Weaver said.

Locals are skeptical it will make much difference. Many say they still do not trust the water quality as well as the recovery effort.

In recent months, the number of people who are not paying their water bills has grown while the amount of water used has dropped, according to state officials.


"It's water they don't trust," Richard Baird, an aide to Gov. Rick Snyder, said in a recent interview.

In April, Virginia Tech professor and water quality expert Marc Edwards said that the water is still unsafe to drink largely because residents aren't allowing it to flow through and clear out the city's pipes.

"The way to recovery is to get more water running through the system. Many people believe if they use less water if will be better. That is simply not true," he stated. "The system is slowly improving. The more the residents use the water, the faster the system will heal."

Residents are being urged to turn a bathroom tub faucet and a kitchen faucet full-on for five minutes a day each, totaling 10 minutes in all. Businesses are also asked to participate.

It is thought that flushing pipes will help remove particulate lead which continues to contribute to spiked lead levels throughout the city. It is also expected to help move a water additive -- orthophosphate -- through the system more effectively.

To publicize the campaign, a 30-second "Take a Turn" television ad is airing on Flint stations as well as on Facebook and YouTube. Home and business owners are being urged to "flush for Flint."


Residents, with the exception of pregnant women and children under the age of 6, are being told that it's safe to drink filtered Flint tap water.

Mark Durno, the EPA's on-site coordinator, said the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are continuing to test water samples around the city. New results expected in June would indicate whether the flushing campaign has worked.

Officials say they still cannot provide a timeline for the end of the water crisis. Plans to replace the city's lead pipes could take years.

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