Snyder caught forcing Flint to switch to a toxic water source? Or is a national publication caught distorting the truth?

The headline is the impression one gets when reading this headline at The Daily Beast.

Exclusive: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Men Originally Rejected Using Flint’s Toxic River

The emergency manager for Flint, Michigan, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2012, rejected using the city’s river as drinking water after consulting with the state’s environmental protection agency

You really need to read the entire article CAREFULLY as it exposes itself as ignoring the intent and instead choosing a conclusion that attempts to point the finger at Snyder as the reason Flint residents were poisoned.

How could the river that was rejected as Flint’s permanent water source in December 2012 suddenly become suitable for consumption a mere 16 months later?

And who actually made the disastrous choice to start using the previously rejected river as the city’s temporary water source?

Here’s the problem. The story and the court case it references are all about cost cutting in Flint. First you need to read this from the article.

In a civil deposition not reported until now, Ambrose testified under oath that emergency manager Kurtz considered a proposal to use the Flint River, discussed the option with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and then rejected it.

In 2014, Ambrose was deposed in a civil lawsuit brought by retired Flint municipal workers against the state over severe cuts to their health care benefits. Attorney Alec Gibbs questioned Ambrose about the water decision (a year before Flint learned it was being poisoned).

“There was brief evaluation of whether the city would be better off to simply use the Flint River as its primary source of water over the long term,” Ambrose said. “That was determined not to be feasible.”

“Who determined it wasn’t feasible?” Gibbs asked.

“It was a collective decision of the emergency management team based on conversations with the MDEQ that indicated they would not be supportive of the use of the Flint River on a long-term basis as a primary source of water,” Ambrose answered.

“What was the reason they gave?” Gibbs asked.

“You’ll have to ask them,” Ambrose said.

The story reads as if a deposition was uncovered by former emergency manager Ambrose that discussed former emergency manager Kurtz and the decision he arrived at after consulting with the MDEQ in which the Flint River was so corrosive it wasn’t feasible for use long-term. Then a supporting statement is given that the decision was overruled by Snyder as testified to by former Flint Director of Public Works Howard Croft.

Howard Croft, the former director of public works for Flint who resigned in November 2015, asserted more than four months ago in a videotaped interview with the ACLU of Michigan that the decision to use the dangerously corrosive river came directly from the Snyder administration.

In the interview, Croft said that the decision to use the river was a financial one, with a review that “went up through the state.”

“All the way to the governor’s office?” the ACLU of Michigan asked him.

“All the way to the governor’s office,” Croft replied.

What’s the key phrase? The decision to use the river was a financial one. Which everyone now knows. In other words, it wasn’t a feasible long-term primary source of water for FINANCIAL reasons, not water quality issues. Recall that Flint utilized the river as a primary source of water until 1967 when they switched to Detroit water. They also utilized it as the backup source until 2014 when they switched back to the river as the primary source. History shows that the river was usable with the proper treatment. The entire water crisis centers around the fact that a corrosion control program wasn’t implemented by the city during the time it used the river as a primary source from April 2014 through October 2015.

However, readers of the Daily Beast article will get the impression that the river was rejected by the EM’s due to a water quality issue.

How could the river that was rejected as Flint’s permanent water source in December 2012 suddenly become suitable for consumption a mere 16 months later?

Not true. A complete fabrication and distortion of the truth. Suitable for consumption was already answered in prior years. What were the EM’s tasked with?

Both men were tasked by the Republican governor’s administration with restructuring the city’s government to save money after it was in danger of becoming insolvent.

Saving money. The civil disposition of Gerald Ambrose “not reported” until now is promoted as a smoking gun document that ties Snyder to the poisoning. It’s meaningless. If the Daily Beast really wants to go out and uncover an exclusive to get to Snyder, they need to find evidence that it was Snyder himself that directed a corrosion control program not be utilized. Merely linking him to the source water switch decision is already a given based upon the directive given to the emergency managers to save money.

I’ve stated previously that I’m not a Snyder supporter and hope he is held accountable should it be determined that he’s guilty of the decisions that led to the lead poisoning. But I won’t stand by and let publications like the Daily Beast distort the truth in a partisan political stunt simply to get to a republican. Shame on you Daily Beast. There are already enough lies and distortions concerning Flint and what happened, taking cheap shots isn’t helping.

The ONLY decision that matters, particularly when it comes to legal liability, is who or whom made the decision to not utilize corrosion control. An email dated Sept. 3, 2015 from former DPW Director Howard Croft to the Flint Technical Advisory Team at least partially answers the question.

At the onset of our plant design, optimization for lead was addressed and discussed with the engineering firm and with the DEQ. It was determined that having more data was advisable prior to the commitment of a specific optimization method.

There you have it. It was the Michigan DEQ. The engineering firm didn’t have the authority to decline corrosion control. Nor did the city of Flint. Only the DEQ. We have since found out that the DEQ misinterpreted the EPA Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule requirement that a city with a population over 50,000 was required to maintain a corrosion control program after a source water switch. Even though the city was conducting two consecutive six month monitoring periods as required to determine if an optimal corrosion control program is necessary, the law says they MUST utilize corrosion control during that process. They didn’t. The lead leached out and people were poisoned and the rest is history. Again, it was the DEQ and only the DEQ that had the authority to allow Flint to not use corrosion control.

It is highly unlikely that Gov. Snyder ever had a whisper of knowledge what was transpiring in Flint. These were mundane, bureaucratic level decisions. The type that go on every day in the myriad of government agencies. Municipalities changing chemicals or water sources is hardly a requirement of direct Governor oversight. As I said, if for some strange reason he had his fingers in it, then let him pay. But it is possible he was briefed due to the money saving aspect with the emergency manager involvement. But to not use corrosion control? He probably didn’t even know what it was before all of this went down.

Is he ultimately responsible because all DEQ employees work for him? Sure. But to ever prove the negligence required to pass legal muster is going to take something the public hasn’t seen yet. And just wouldn’t make any sense unless you’re on-board with the conspiracy crowd that thinks that the privileged, rich white boy is just out to get the black man.

Stay tuned. We’ll keep seeking the truth and exposing the lies.

Advertisements

More Flint water problems coming this summer?

First it was excessive TTHM’s. Then it was excessive lead. Possibly even a cause of Legionnaire’s Disease although a conclusive link has yet to be made. It’s been a rough 21 months for the Flint, Michigan water supply. Now Flint has returned to purchasing water from Detroit until the new Karegnondi pipeline supplying Lake Huron water directly to Flint is ready later this summer. It would appear Flint has turned the corner on its water quality issues and can now focus solely on dealing with the fallout. Or has it? Could there be another consequence yet to come?

Possibly, but it won’t be the citizens of Flint that are directly affected. It will be the people who live in the Saginaw Bay basin of Lake Huron. Why? Because that’s where the Flint River discharges, into the Saginaw Bay. Let me explain.

First of all, this is just theory and there is no accurate way to predict a certain outcome in this scenario as there are too many other unknown variables. Let’s start with what we do know. Flint is now using Detroit water which contains orthophosphate in the form of phosphoric acid as a corrosion control agent. This chart from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department shows that .33 mg/L of phosphorus were measured in the tap water at the Lake Huron Plant which is now supplying Flint with its water. The DEQ sent the DWSD a letter dated March 3, 2000 specifying that Detroit maintain a phosphate dosage of .9 mg/L at each of the plant taps with a .8 mg/L residual. The .33 mg/L measured is far too low but may be boosted elsewhere in the distribution system. That information was not available. In addition, Flint is adding an additional 2.5 milligrams per liter of phosphate at its Water Treatment Plant. The excess phosphate is thought to be necessary to build up the scale on the pipe walls faster to lock the lead back in place.

The unknown question is how much of this supercharged dose of phosphate will work its way through the entire distribution system, the homes and businesses, the sewer system and then finally the wastewater treatment plant to be discharged into the Flint River and finally into Saginaw Bay. Once there, it is the primary driver of algal blooms, which are toxic. Lake Erie makes the national news virtually every summer with their algal blooms which trigger boil water advisories and potentially even the inability to use the public water supply. Also keep in mind that many avenues exist in which this water will never make it to the wastewater plant to be treated before returning to the Flint River. Leaks in the distribution system, lawn watering, industrial discharges, hydrant flushing to an extent, fire fighting, etc. Anytime water doesn’t go down the sewer it is absorbed into the ground in which the drain for that is the entire Flint River drainage basin leading to Saginaw Bay.

Lest you think this is all about nothing, Saginaw Bay already regularly exceeds its target of 440 metric tonnes of phosphate per year. This report illustrates how the target of 15 micrograms per liter (micrograms are a thousand times smaller than the milligrams of phosphate being fed by the Detroit and Flint water treatment plants) is regularly overshot. It also shows how municipal discharges (wastewater treatment plant) are a primary source of phosphate loading in the Saginaw Bay.

In fact, of all the rivers and tributaries that drain into the Saginaw Bay, it is the Flint River that feeds the greatest percentage of phosphorous at 21.1% (see Table 6). Furthermore, the phosphorus load contributed by the Flint River wastewater treatment plant is over 42,000 Kg/per year, nearly double that of the Saginaw River (see Table 8).

As you can see, the phosphorous loading of the Saginaw Bay already exceeds target levels set to eliminate algal blooms. The Flint River is the worst offender and the Flint wastewater treatment plant is the major source of phosphorous loading in the bay. Now that phosphates at an artificially high rate are being used to combat the lead corrosion issue in Flint, it’s a reasonable assumption to conclude that even higher levels are headed to Saginaw Bay. If Michigan should experience a hot summer this year, the algal bloom problem could really rear its ugly head.

Problems abound with algal blooms. This NOAA report studies the stress factors on the bay. The bay is very shallow, less than 5 feet deep in most places, and very susceptible to algal blooms. It serves a half million people and waterborne disease is a serious issue.

A priority concern in the Saginaw Bay watershed is the run-off of phosphorus-applied to farmland in fertilizers to maximize crop growth-draining from the land into the bay. As phosphorus stimulates plant growth for crops, this nutrient also stimulates algal growth in the bay. While some phosphorus is needed in the water for the growth of aquatic plants, too much of this nutrient can stimulate the growth of nuisance and toxic algae, namely cyanobacteria. Historically, in response to this water quality problem plaguing Saginaw Bay and other areas of the Great Lakes, the GLWQA established an aggressive phosphorus reduction program in 1978. The GLWQA provides guidance on strategies to reduce the amount of phosphorus used on farmland and the discharge of phosphorus from municipalities and industrial sources. Under the 1978 GLWQA, phosphorus levels in detergents were also reduced.

As a result of less phosphorus draining into the bay, the frequency and occurrence of harmful algal blooms (caused by cyanobacteria) appeared to decrease in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This improvement, however, was short-lived, and within a decade’s time, large blooms of cyanobacteria were found, including toxic colonial cyanobacteria, and benthic filamentous algae, such as Cladophora. In addition, human health risks emerged with the production of toxins by some strains of the cyanobacteria, such as Microsystis, that can affect the liver and skin.

With the sorry track record the Flint water supply already has, it would be piling on to add on another toxic outcome to the list, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

UPDATED*** Since going to press, a study just released in the UK has shown a definitive link between algae toxins, specifically BMAA, and brain disease including Alzheimers-http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3413873/Alzheimer-s-cause-discovered-Poisonous-algae-freshwater-lakes-reservoirs-UK-fuelling-dementia-epidemic-afflicting-1m-people.html. Excessive algae growth, particularly in a shallow bay with heavy recreational use, is a serious issue.

Some good news. Spellchek has been pointing out that the Flint water problems go all the way to the top. It is a government created problem with a government solution being touted as the only fix possible. Standard establishment, big government 101. It is in fact the Safe Drinking Water Act that is the driver of Flint water problems. State and local governments, municipalities and other water utilities are all trying to adhere to a set of minimum standards that are weak. The cherry on top is the EPA actively involved in rigging the system to get cities across the nation to not violate the law. Media outlets around the world are getting in on the real backstory. It goes way beyond Flint. Take this story from the Guardian for example.

US authorities distorting tests to downplay lead content of water

Exclusive: Documents seen by the Guardian reveal questionable practices that mean people’s drinking water is at risk in ‘every major city east of the Mississippi’

Water authorities across the US are systematically distorting water tests to downplay the amount of lead in samples, risking a dangerous spread of the toxic water crisis that has gripped Flint, documents seen by the Guardian show.

The controversial approach to water testing is so widespread that it occurs in “every major US city east of the Mississippi” according to an anonymous source with extensive knowledge of the lead and copper regulations. “By word of mouth, this has become the thing to do in the water industry. The logical conclusion is that millions of people’s drinking water is potentially unsafe,” he said.

Why would the EPA proactively ensure that cities meet legal standards by using unethical practices? Why, the almighty buck of course. Toxins in our nations water supply are a monumental problem. Extremely vast and extremely expensive to repair. More costly than state and local budgets can possibly absorb. When taken in context with the plethora of other infrastructure problems confronting the nation, we can see that there isn’t a budget large enough to ever solve them all. Besides, big government looks at the macro picture. It isn’t just the construction industry involved. Other stakeholders are healthcare, pharmaceuticals, legal, etc., etc. that make money on the back end dealing with the fallout from government created pandemics.

If the public ever really wants to stop being played for fools and avoid repeats of Flint, they will have to start with the painfully obvious. Government is the problem. Yet another election cycle with standard left/right squabbling will solve nothing. We are light years away from a solution as a country since most have yet to even see the problem, let alone devise a solution.

Anonymous strikes Flint!

The above video was posted by the Anonymous group, a collection of activists that specialize in hacking. Well, we’ve certainly learned one thing. Anonymous are partisan leftists. I’ve stated before that I’m not a Snyder backer. Certainly didn’t vote for him. But to date no one anywhere has provided a specific piece of evidence that Snyder ordered the Code Red and purposely poisoned the people of Flint. Failed to act? That’s another story.

If you’re really interested in taking down the ultimate authority on the Flint water crisis, it goes well beyond the Governor of a State. The Federal Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has to shoulder their share of the blame as well as Congress for passing the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) and the President for signing it. So you can make the case that it goes all the way to the top if you want a fall guy.

It is the SWDA that allows a 15 parts per billion level of lead in our drinking water when no amount is safe. It is the Lead and Copper Rule clarification of the SDWA that allows a water utility to operate and deliver water to the population for up to FIVE YEARS while an optimal corrosion control program is developed and implemented. All of the negligence and mismanagement that has occurred at the federal, state and local levels has been in the interpretation and adherence to the SDWA.

Even if you keep narrowly focused on blaming republicans for austerity and cost cutting as the culprit, it is the SDWA that gives the wiggle room necessary to jeopardize the health and welfare of the citizens. Take away the allowable lead level and the half a decade window in which to use the populace as guinea pigs to collect data and the opportunity for politicians to compromise the law vanishes.

Looking for the true villains? It’s bureaucracy. Our government that is supposed to be in place to serve the people but is instead self-serving.

The best video ever showing Flint water officials incompetence

If you are following the Flint water crisis and haven’t watched the video entitled “Difficult Admissions”, consider it a must see. Politicians are generally very good at deflecting and not answering questions, but this video is an exception. Conducted by ACLU investigative reporter Curt Guyette, the Flint water officials are simply at a loss for words when they aren’t trying to blame someone else. I give it 5 stars. Here is the link if it won’t play.

 

Obama rewards Iran with a great interest rate on their blood money

The year – 1981. The United States cuts diplomatic ties with Iran. $400 million in Iranian assets are tied up. Fast forward to 2016. POTUS decides it’s in our best interest to give it back. With interest.

“For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran,” Obama claimed. “So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out. With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well.”

How much interest? $1.3 billion. Iran gets a check for $1.7 billion dollars. You may ask, what is the interest rate on that. A simple compound interest calculator tells us about 6% for $400 million to grow into $1.7 billion over 25 years. By the way, how much interest is your local bank paying you on your paltry savings account? I suspect it isn’t 6%. But according to Barry, it’s great because it’s less than they wanted.

Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought,” Obama said.

I wonder how many other State sponsors of terrorism get to dictate the terms of returning their blood money assets? You can be sure if Obama has his say, Iran won’t be the last.

 

Clinton makes Flint water crisis a partisan issue

Hillary Clinton was discussing the Flint water crisis during last night’s democrat debate. She took the opportunity to make it a left/right issue in calling out Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for his inaction in dealing with the lead issue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not here to defend Snyder’s actions or inaction but it was a bit different in her New York Senator days.

“We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population which is poor in many ways, and majority African-American has been drinking and bathing in lead contaminated water and the governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care,” she said. “He had requests for help that he basically stonewalled. I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water, and being bathed in it there would’ve been action.”

She also pointed out her track record as a State Senator.

Clinton also discussed appearing on a television show on which “I said it was outrageous that the governor hadn’t acted and within tow hours he had.”

She appeared on the Rachel Maddow show on Jan. 14, on which Clinton said “”This is infuriating to me. I did a lot of work on trying to get rid of lead in residential housing in Upstate New York. I care deeply about this issue. We know it has effects on behavior and educational attainment.”

Let’s review. Clinton served as a State Senator of New York from 2001 – 2009. A $4 million HUD grant was awarded to Rochester, NY in 2008 for lead-free housing. Hmmm, 7 years after she took office. During that time period, New York had democrat Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. Currently, both State Senator’s in Michigan are democrats.

So today she lays the blame for Flint at the feet of a republican Governor. No mention of the democrat State Senators. No mention of the democrat Governor in New York with the Rochester lead crisis. You may note that even as recent as 2014, Monroe County, NY still had 139 children with lead poisoning. It begs the question, Sen. Clinton, why didn’t you do more and sooner during your 8 years in office? Why do you point the finger of blame in Flint at republicans when your democrat counterparts get a pass? No call for recall, no call to arrest any democrat.

Fact is, there is culpability all over the place including democrats and republicans. Turning lead poisoning of children into a political talking point is really disgusting. However, she is a Clinton and that’s what we’ve come to expect. I certainly hope Snyder gets what he deserves. But any call for justice from a Clinton is just the pot calling the kettle black.

 

Obama, not Clinton, gave the stand down order in Benghazi? Who knew!

BOMBSHELL: New Benghazi revelation implicates… Obama

Bombshell? Not really. Unless you’ve been buying into the mass media version of events. Implicates Obama? Not new. Unless you’ve been buying into the GOP version which has always been about taking down Hillary Clinton. The bombshell referenced is the new movie “13 Hours” and the stand down order given.

But something much worse than a stand down order was given.

There was military aid sent – but they were ordered to turn back. If true, this new evidence points to someone besides Hillary — yep, you guessed it, President Obama.

I have to say I’m not a fan of the movie. I should say the idea of the movie. Making a movie to honor the brave heroes who died in Benghazi sounds like a reasonable idea. Separating the politics does not. After all, the only reason 4 Americans ever had to fight and die in Benghazi was pure politics. CIA weapons trafficking isn’t unique nor new. Americans dying because our government conducts covert ops around the globe is old hat. Most will never have a movie made about them. It just smacks of poor taste. To leave out the rest of the story seems an injustice to the dead.

Then to release it mere weeks before Iowa and claim it’s not politically motivated? I see disappointment everywhere. The left will hate it. The CIA will pan it. Those who had hoped to see Clinton burn because of it will be let down. I will say this. If the families of the dead find some solace in a movie highlighting their loved ones bravery, then I certainly intend no ill will to them. I’m glad for them. But I’ll bet the biggest question they want answered is why it ever had to happen and this movie doesn’t go there.

It is refreshing to see someone finally shine a light on Obama’s involvement. Leave it to Sharyl Attkisson. However, she’ll never get to the Holy Grail. The fact that Obama gave the order to let our Ambassador die and serve as the fall guy for a CIA op that had become compromised. That and the involvement of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle in standard military-industrial complex fare assures us that the true Benghazi story simply can’t be allowed to ever see the light of day.

 

 

The Flint water treatment process in pictures

With the Flint water crisis making global news seemingly everyday, here is an inside look at at the Flint Water Treatment Plant. These are pictures from when Flint was utilizing the Flint River as its source from April 2014 through October 2015.

Android 078

This is where it all starts. The raw water intake at the Flint River.

Android 037

This building houses the pumps that draw water in from the river and then at the end of the process deliver it to the city.

Android 075

The raw, untreated water then travels to the ozone building where ozone generators disinfect the water by injecting ozone gas into the water to chemically remove contaminants.

Android 072

These are liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen tanks used in the ozonation process. Note the ice on the condensers even in the summer.

Android 086

Now it’s off to the coagulation process and the start of Flint’s water woes. Ferric chloride is rapidly mixed in then travels to large settling basins where particles in the water accumulate together and slowly sink to the bottom where they are flushed to the sewer system. It is the ferric chloride that corrodes the pipes in the distribution system. It was causing rust to form on GM’s engine parts at its manufacturing plant that caused GM to drop Flint water and return to Detroit supplied water.

Android 160

These are the storage tanks used to hold the ferric chloride. Each tank holds 2,000 gallons.

Android 070

A water softening process is next as lime is added to the water via mixers called lime slakers which create a slurry. The slaker contains a shaker to remove grit.

Android 099

These are high maintenance machines requiring constant cleaning. The lime starts as a powder and is mixed with water which generates heat quickly. Any steam that isn’t removed will cause the lime to cake as seen here. Machine jams and pipe clogging are common.

Android 167

The lime slurry is pumped to a 120 ft. circular clarifier which mixes it in and another coagulation/flocculation process occurs to settle out contaminants. The mixing happens in the center, the water then flows outward and up through a blanket of sludge which traps the larger particles. the clarified water spills out over the top and it’s off to the filters.

Android 049

Android 112

There are a dozen filters that use a layer of anthracite coal on top of sand to trap particulates.

Android 119

These filters had to have their media replaced with granulated activated carbon (GAC) due to excessive TTHM problems Flint had in the summer of 2014. TTHM’s, or total trihalomethanes, are byproducts of chlorine reacting with naturally occurring organics in the water. Why didn’t Flint use the GAC from the start? Money, of course, as that’s been the root of all the Flint water problems. Flint finally had to cough up nearly 2 million dollars to replace the media after the news and public outcry even though the GAC won’t be necessary once the new Lake Huron water source comes online in the summer of 2016.

After the filters, the last step is to chlorinate the water. These are one ton cylinders.

Android 063

That’s it! It’s now off to the city and the aging distribution system where the lead and possibly the legionella bacteria problems began. Of course there is much more to the water treatment process than these few pictures showed. Here are some more miscellaneous examples.

The two million gallon water tank at the plant.

Android 045

The old water plant #1 now abandoned and condemned.

Android 052

Decaying Hamilton Dam located in downtown Flint.

Android 093

The sludge lagoon located on Bray Rd. where the grit from the lime slakers is pumped to dry. It can then be scraped up and disposed of. This fish didn’t fare so well.

Android 146

The new tie-in connection to the Karegnondi pipeline transporting Lake Huron water to the plant in late summer 2016.

Android 161

The fluoride pumps used to add fluoride to the water supply. Note the etched glass behind the pumps. What do you suppose that fluoride does to our bodies since the fumes alone can etch glass?

Android 384

The Flint Water Department. Maintaining quality water for its customers. No really. Says so right here.

Android 137

 

 

Possible link between Legionnaires’ and Flint water?

The news cycle has been highlighting the possibility that an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease that occurred in and around the Flint, Michigan area last year may be connected to the toxic water problem Flint has been experiencing. This is due to a report from the same professor that helped to expose the lead in the water issue.

Possible Links Between Flint River Water (Without Corrosion Control) and Higher Legionella Occurrence

The professor raises the possibility that a lack of a corrosion control program may have created conditions favorable to the growth and transmission of the Legionella bacteria. The Governors’ office has pointed out that no link exists to connect the two.

I have another possible rationale that you won’t hear anywhere else. Legionella bacteria are prevalent in fresh water sources. They grow well in cooling towers and hot water systems which is large building complexes tend to be where outbreaks occur. They can also grow in areas such as the biofilm that lines the inside of water transmission mains which is why the professor suggested the link. They also can grow in pipes with limescale buildup. Care to guess where that may exist? The Flint Water Treatment Plant (WTP), that’s where.

The Flint WTP utilized a softening process during the time they utilized the Flint River as a water source. Lime was the chemical used to soften the water. The lime began as a powder called quicklime. It is mixed with water in a machine called a lime slaker which produces a slurry that is piped into a clarifier where it was mixed with the city water supply.

Legionella wouldn’t grow in the lime slaker itself while in operation as the water is too hot, around 210 degrees. Anything over 131 degrees will kill the bacteria. However, when the machine is offline (Flint has 4 with 2 in use during normal operation), the lime quickly hardens into a scale. The same goes for the hoses used to transport the slurry. Just as the bacteria may grow in the biofilm of the distribution water mains, it may grow in the limescale of the water plant machines and hoses.

You can ready this study here to see that the biofilm can protect the bacteria from excessive heat and that dead ends are prime breeding ground. Dead ends are areas of the distribution system where water just sits and doesn’t ‘turn over’. The chlorine residual is low here making the problem worse. Flint has lots of them due to the ever shrinking population and abandoned houses.

It’s likely we’ll never know if this was the missing link. Flint isn’t using the machines now that they’ve switched back to Detroit water as a a source. They won’t be needed later this year either when Flint switches to its new source, the Karegnondi pipeline bringing water directly from Lake Huron. So those conditions won’t be replicated again and you can be sure no one from the Governors’ office will ever pursue it as they have no desire to have additional liability heaped upon them.

Editors note: this author has reached out to several different organizations from local reporters to activists such as Erin Brockovich to give them a chance to get the inside story from someone who has intimate knowledge of the Flint water treatment operation. To date, none have taken advantage. We’ll continue to shine the spotlight on the truth regardless.

 

Who SHOULD go to jail over the Flint water crisis

Spellchek participates in a variety of web based opinion formats. The Flint water crisis is a hot global topic. Exposing the truth is a concern to all and judging by the response we’ve had in other formats, more needs to be done concerning educating the public about lead in our drinking water. So we’ll continue to post on it here and elsewhere. Particularly on exposing the E.P.A. end. It’s bad enough that the residents of Flint were poisoned due to cost cutting, but the law said to protect the citizens may do the opposite.

Federal drinking water regulations contain a provision called the lead and copper (LCR) rule. Issued in 1991 and revised in 2007, it sets the standards public water supplies must follow to insure excessive levels of lead and copper are kept out of our drinking water. Or does it?

Physicians everywhere will tell you that no amount of lead is acceptable in humans. Particularly infants. Lead poisoning is irreversible. Yet the LCR sets an allowable limit of 15 parts per billion (PBB) in our water. Why? Shouldn’t it be zero? Regardless, the 15 PBB threshold wasn’t exceeded during the two six month monitoring periods conducted by the city of Flint after switching their source water. The first period was 6 PBB and the second was 11 PBB. Consequently, the city avoided a public notification and the required actions to correct it.

However, let’s say that the 15 PBB threshold was exceeded. The LCR requires a public water supply to supply treatment recommendations to the state within eighteen months of exceeding an allowable limit, in this case the 15 PBB for lead. States then have six months to respond to those recommendations. If required, public water supplies then have up to 24 months to install the treatment system.

Have you been keeping track? After a public water utility changes its water source it must conduct two six month monitoring periods, an eighteen month recommendation period, a six month state reply period, and a 24 month implementation period. That’s 5 years folks! Up to 5 years of putting excessive amounts of lead in to the drinking water. We are all sheep! We’re guinea pigs! The Feds have determined the best way to optimize corrosion control in a public water supply is to have real world data to work with. Your health is that data!

Where the DEQ screwed up concerning Flint was to misinterpret the rule concerning implementing optimized corrosion control. Cities with under 50,000 residents don’t require it during their two six month monitoring periods after a source water switch. Flint was improperly put in this category as they have over 50,000 residents and should have had corrosion control in place from day one.

Keep in mind that the rule doesn’t address the effectiveness of the corrosion control program. Only that it must be in place during the monitoring period. In water chemistry, there are a great many variables concerning treatment options. Changing any part of a treatment program may create unwanted or unforeseen changes elsewhere. Does it seem a bit strange that water treatment utilizes a key factor such as your health in optimizing change? Particularly when so much data and case studies are available to prevent such trial and error experimentation?

Would it not be better to require more extensive bench testing and jar testing beforehand (common water treatment testing practices)? Bench testing can simulate the same conditions found in the distribution system if properly set up. Would it not make more sense to force utilities to submit to an federal approval process that takes into account all existing data (the system now puts the impetus on the public water utility to submit the treatment proposal)? Spellchek usually never advocates any big government style program but the potential for disaster dictates that oversight by a broad based entity would help eliminate errors from utilities that may not have every resource available to them.

The process is certainly debatable, however the point is to take the human guinea pig out of the equation. The almighty buck factors mightily in the drinking water safety rulebook. Minimizing health risks can be an intensive and expensive process. Ask the poisoned kids in Flint if it’s worth it?

It is estimated that it will take $1.5 billion dollars to replace Flint’s water pipe infrastructure to eliminate the lead issue once and for all. Neither the city or county or state has that kind of money available. Only the federal government could. What about the pandoras box that bailing out Flint would open up? Every other community across the country with lead issues would also be in line for federal dollars.

The saddest part of all is that this disaster in Flint was entirely preventable and still could have delivered the cost savings the city sought. The chloride sulfate mass ratio (CSMR) was hard evidence that switching coagulants from alum to ferric chloride would result in aggressive, corrosive water. Flint had case studies available from other cities that had already implemented comparable changes with the same lead leaching results.

Switching to Flint River water wasn’t the issue that created the lead poisoning. The treatment process selected was. Those decision makers are the people that need to go to jail. People want heads to roll all the way up to the Governor himself. It’s easy to understand the outrage as so many innocent people have been harmed. Perhaps people need to look to our nations lawmakers as well when it comes to blame. Their Safe Drinking Water Act is a failure when it comes to protecting the public from lead. As I’ve laid out for you, you can see how a public utility can legally deliver a toxic lead soup to its customers. For up to 4 years in this scenario. That’s criminal is anyone’s book.