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Officials Ask Flint Residents To Flush Their Pipes

Running water filling up a bathtub
Officials want people in Flint to open up their bathtub tap first.

Starting May first, if you live in Flint, officials with the EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the city want you to flush water through your home or business every day.

They say you should take your water filter off your kitchen tap or flip the lever to bypass the filter, open your cold water taps in your kitchen and your bathtub all the way, and let them run for five minutes. They want you to do that every day for two weeks.

They’re calling the campaign Run to Restore.

Flint’s water now has phosphates added to it to coat the water pipes and help keep lead from leaching out and getting into drinking water. It was the lack of that treatment that led to the drinking water crisis.

Peter Cassell is with the Environmental Protection Agency.

He says there are two reasons people need to use more water in Flint.

“Running the water in the ways that we’re recommending is important to make sure that the orthophosphate is coating the pipes and providing that protective coating as well as wash out the pockets of metals that have built up over time,” says Cassell.

He says little particles of lead have built up in pipes, and running water will help flush them out. As Michigan Radio has, reportedthose lead particles can lead to sky high lead levels if they get into your water.

A major point here: no one in Flint will have to pay for this out of pocket.

Cassell says the state has set aside $300,000 to pay for using the extra water. He says they're still figuring out how that will be noted on residents' water bills.

He says teams have started going door to door with flyers about the flushing program, and talking it up at meetings.

But officials have often struggled with communicating to people in Flint during the water crisis.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the EPA, DEQ and the city will have to work together carefully to get this message out.

“There will have to be some kind of message to get everybody to do it because I think it has to be a coordinated effort in order for it to work,” she says.

Here's an infographic from the EPA explaining what to do (if it doesn't load below, find it here):


EPA infographic explaining how to flush pipes
Credit EPA