“Flush for Flint” What Residents Can Do to Help Improve Water Quality

May 2, 2016 (FLINT, MI)  Replacing all lead pipes in the City of Flint remains among Mayor Karen Weaver’s top priorities. However, experts say flushing pipes is still important to remove loose lead particles and to coat pipes. The Flush for Flint campaign is now underway. All residents are asked to get involved and do their part to improve the City’s water system by helping to “flush” out the pipes. Follow the steps below for 14 days in a row during the month of May. This will not cost Flint residents anything. Residents will receive a credit on their water bill.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Flint, is recommending Flint residents run the water in their homes and businesses to aid in the recovery of the Flint drinking water system. There will be no associated cost to residents related to this flushing program. Residents will be compensated for the cost associated with flushing in addition to receiving water credits already awarded by the state.

The recommended flushing program is intended to address particulate lead and to help distribute orthophosphate, the corrosion control chemical that builds a protective coating in pipes and protects against lead exposure. Allowing the water to run flushes loose particles of lead from service lines and from the pipes in homes. Data from EPA, MDEQ and Virginia Tech indicates these particles are a significant factor in Flint homes where water samples have shown very high lead concentrations. Note that attention to building a protective coating in pipes does not mean that there is any less urgency to remove lead service lines.

Beginning May 1st, the following steps are recommended for residents to flush out particles and to build orthophosphate coating in pipes:

Step 1: Run cold water at the highest flow in the bathtub for 5 minutes. Do not use the showerhead because it has a lower flow rate.

Step 2: Bypass or remove your filter, then run cold water at the highest flow from the kitchen faucet for 5 minutes. Remember to turn your filter back on or reinstall it when done. EPA testing has shown filters are effective at removing even very high levels of lead.

Step 3: Do this every day for 14 days.

For more information on EPA’s role in the Flint Drinking Water Response, visit www.epa.gov/flint.