Flint, Michigan:

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Joe Shlabotnik
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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by Joe Shlabotnik »

Jocephus wrote:
January 12 21, 2:19 pm
GOOD

AWvsCBsteeeerike3
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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by AWvsCBsteeeerike3 »

pioneer98 wrote:
September 11 19, 4:48 pm
This is part of Frontline's investigation. Full video here:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film ... dly-water/
I watched this the other day. 1. Frontline has great documentaries. 2. This one was excellent as well.

Just a recap of what happened because I hadn't really seen one, not that I was watching, until this doc:
1. Decision was made to get water from Lake Huron via a new pipeline
-I don't know where that water was to be treated
-It would save money for the City and not force the City to buy drinking water from Detroit; the savings were something
-The State in its role of managing the City decided during construction of the pipeline to get water from Huron the City would get water from the Flint River via an old water treatment plant in Flint.
2. After switching to the Flint River as the source, there were issues with the quality of water.

It seems open and shut, but there are some questions I still have. Namely, why was the water quality bad? Was it a faulty water treatment plant (as is somewhat hinted at in the documentary)? If so, how was this not caught at the water treatment plant. Surely they were required to test at the water treatment plant.

As such, it's not really clear where the source of legionella came from. The documentary specifically says the State didn't require the plant to protect the City's water pipes from corrosion and that led to legionella.

But, what pipes are they talking about? The intake pipes (pipes bringing water from the river to the plant)? If so, the water treatment plant should have disinfected the water to a point where it was safe to drink. If it's the distribution pipes (eg, pipes in the neighborhood and connecting the sources to the neighborhoods), those should be the same pipes they were using to get water from Detroit? Is it just the small section of pipe just downstream of the plant (after the point it would have been tested) but prior to where it tied into the main distribution pipes? That's a pretty insignificant length of pipe and I have a hard time believing a small section like that could lead to all these issues. Unless that includes a water tower that wasn't used when on Detroit's water...

Was it some combination of poor water quality being brought in, poor water treatment, and lax testing? The documentary never really pinpoints the source as far as I could tell.

Continuing on with the stream of consciousness here, it doesn't make any sense it was the distribution piping because if that was the case, Detroit's water would have had the same issues and the problem only became apparent after the switch. And, the documentary may have given confusing information that the 'City's pipes' which include the distribution piping should have said the 'City's water treatment plant pipes' in which case they contaminated it at the source and either didn't test, tested in a faulty manner, or criminally ignored the tests. My guess would be the later, especially given the concerns from the plant operators, and the poor water quality in the Flint River only exacerbated the problem.

But, if that's the case, how was a new pipeline carrying water, even if excellent quality, from Lake Huron going to help? The faulty treatment plant they had, if that is the issue, would have tainted pure H2O let alone lake water. Unless there was a corporation set up that was going to sell treated water to Flint in the same manner Detroit already was and Flint was not going to have to treat the water, they were always going to face this issue. Perhaps.

All that said, the response by the State and their inaction/non-investigation is undoubtedly criminal and glad they're pursuing criminal charges.

AWvsCBsteeeerike3
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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by AWvsCBsteeeerike3 »

All that said, we do a lot of work with the water provider in our area and while I think they do an excellent job of managing quality and costs, it's a very difficult job.

I'll give a brief overview of how their operation works. They have a lake (Lake Maumelle) that they have successfully protected the majority of the subbasins from development and that is their source. There isn't a lot of stuff built in the sub basins and there are laws limiting the size of boats/motors allowed on it, and there is no swimming allowed....I guess they don't want people peeing in it or becoming a popular destination mroe likely. Regardless....there are raw water lines that pipe water from the lake to treatment plants around their area of distribution. They treat the water, test it, then use a network of tanks to get it into the distribution pipes.

That said, they've been doing this for a long time. There are thousands of miles of distribuition pipeline in the City that they maintain. Some of these lines are 100 years old probably. The network is like a chain, only as strong as its weakest point. We are tapping a 16" distribution pipe early next week and I'll show you a picture of the inside of the pipe. I'd bet a dollar to a dime that it won't be pristine and will have some form of buildup and/or corrosion on the inside becasue regardless of how stringent their requirements are, even perfectly built water lines only last so long, it doesn't take much of a chink to cause issues. And, lastly, their requirements have not always been as stringent. See my previous comment about weakest link. There's stuff in the drinking water other than hydrogen, oxygen, fluoride, and chlorine even if that's all that is in it when it leaves the plants.

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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by Freed Roger »

didnt get a chance to read all of your post AW, but NPR podcast has some great reporting on this. will try to find it.
here is some timeline
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way ... f-a-crisis

AWvsCBsteeeerike3
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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by AWvsCBsteeeerike3 »

Thanks. There's a lot of information there that answers some of my questions.

So, the City of Flint decided to switch to a different water provider (KWA) that would have sold them treated water. In doing so, they stopped buying it from Detroid (DWSD). They never intended to reuse their water treatment plant.

DWSD for some reason, probably petty, stopped selling them water prior to the new pipeline being installed, causing them to have to provide their own until the construction of the pipeline to bring KWA water to Flint was complete. Looks like the switch to the Flint River water is what caused the corrosion in the distribution pipes and they didn't treat the water at the plan to prevent that corrosion though the water at the plant probably did pass tests. Never knew that they had to treat water to prevent corrosion... Gross.

Now, they're really [expletive] because the distribution pipes have corroded and while the water is being properly treated, no one is using the water and as such the additives to the water system aren't healing the corroded pipes. What a mess. Though, they can fix that by running water/hydrants/etc in order to allow the chemicals to 'reseal' the pipes, good luck with anyone ever trusing them enough to convince them the corroded pipes are 'fixed'.

AWvsCBsteeeerike3
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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by AWvsCBsteeeerike3 »

Good breakdown of the science behind the problems

ETA: Thanks to whomever fixed the link.

Also, tl;dw:
There's an anti-corrosion chemical that Detroit was using (and is pretty standard practice apparently) and Flint did not. Turns out, that anti-corrosion chemical is a big deal and while there were certainly other issues this lone issue seems to be the single point of failure. By not using it, the pipes corroded leading to metal flakes and discoloration caused from the iron pipes as well as lead leeching into the water. The corrosion led to further chemical reactions in the water that more/less neutralized the disinfectants they were adding and that in turn led the water to be more corrosive causing it to react with the increasing amount of disinfectants they were adding. Sheesh.

On top of all that, Flint's water distribution system was incredibly oversized due to the decreased population its seen over the decades. This may not seem like a big deal. But, you want water to turn over every day or so. Suffice to say, that was not happening, and given the chemical reactions taking place in the pipes, it would be especially important to turn water over quickly, not less quickly.

It does seem 'they' were monitoring and trying to fix the issues but were unfortunately inept. And, on top of that, at the upper levels, there should have been an intervention and help given.

What is really mind-boggling to me, at least, is Detroit Water and Sewer Department (DWDS) had to have known from Day 1 what was happening. Just wasn't their job to help, I reckon. Now, according to that video, Flint is replacing all their lead water lines which has to be an undertaking almost as big as the massive pipeline coming from Lake Huron. What a [expletive] show.

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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by Freed Roger »

AW, I will try to get re-aquainted with details of Flint water tragedy and read your posts on it fully.
In the meantime, do you see anything that may be underplayed, overplayed in the narrative of (criminal) negligence by various public officials, including ex Gov Snyder?

I realize i am oversimplifying and stating my impression/memory : It is complicated saga, but ultimately one pivotal decision was made, in order to save money, that poisoned the poor people of Flint.

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Re: Flint, Michigan:

Post by AWvsCBsteeeerike3 »

To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure exactly what happened. But, I feel like understanding the chemical reactions really helps. If you go back to my rambling post, it never made sense that it was the distribution piping...until it did. Understanding it was, mostly, a lack of anti-corrosion chemicals added to the water causing chemical reactions while corroding the pipes and understanding the chain of events the lack of the anti-corrosion played certainly tends to shift some of the blame off Snyder et al because they can likely claim they were listening to their engineers at the Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ which is a state-level EPA that mainly enforces laws wrt the EPA regulations).

Somewhere I read, I think in the NPR post, that the DEQ publicly stated they had treated the water incorrectly or per the wrong regulations and the anti-corrosion was only required for larger systems over 50K iirc (which Flint was). Again, it should be noted Flint's system was meant for 200K but only serving 100K which in and of itself creates an issue due to stagnation of water.

All that said, it still seems the governor can be held culpable because he specifically reached out to scientists and then tried to at a minimum give misleading statements to the public and at worst destroy damning evidence.

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