water safety

The residents of Flint, Mich., received some welcome news this week: Researchers released the results of a new round of water tests, showing lead levels in that city's water system falling just below the Environmental Protection Agency action level.

Too many water samples above that level is a red flag for utilities, a sign that they may have a broader lead problem.

Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards, who leads the team documenting Flint's water problems, called the new results the "beginning of the end," a turning point in the city's saga with corrosive water.

Testing for lead in Washington schools is still voluntary seven years after the state passed rules to make it mandatory. That’s because state lawmakers never provided funding to pay for the testing.

Tacoma School District officials will test every school's water quality. That's after results from last May showed unacceptable levels of lead in six Tacoma schools.

District officials say they're investigating why no one took action to fix the problems.

Bill Radke talks with (Tacoma) News Tribune reporter Debbie Cafazzo about the presence of lead in the drinking water at six schools in the Tacoma School District. Radke also talks with Tacoma resident Elizabeth Rudge. Her home is one of 1,700 that may have lead in the water supply.

Seattle Public Utilities says its dams are about three-quarters full.
Flickr photo/Konstantin Stepanov (CC BY 2.0)

Recent, routine tests in Seattle Public Schools found that 49 schools had at least one faucet with lead levels above the district’s acceptable limit.

The district’s lead threshhold is stricter than federal standards: 10 parts per billion, compared to 20.

Screenshot of the water service map.
Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities staff explained their advice for residents to the Seattle City Council on Monday.

Here are the takeaways:

What's the problem? Is Seattle's drinking water safe?

File Photo of an old water fountain.
Flickr Photo/Paul Domenick (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/dqusC4

Utility officials in Seattle say residents should turn on the faucet for a few minutes if the water hasn't run for six hours. The precaution comes after high levels of lead were found in water lines connected to four Tacoma homes.

In the mornings, Jeff Mastrandea waits a good 30 seconds after turning on his faucet. He also makes sure to drink from a filter. He does this because his water is sometimes laced with unsafe levels of lead. He wants to let any water with the toxic metal drain out before he takes a drink.

When the famously pure water from Portland’s Bull Run Watershed sits overnight in the copper plumbing of his 1984 Gresham home, it corrodes the lead solder that fuses those pipes together.

Thirty-four water systems in Washington state were found to have unacceptable levels of lead. Most of those systems are now in compliance, although four of them are still working toward lower lead levels.
Flickr Photo/Christina Spicuzza (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Flint, Michigan, isn't the only place with lead in its drinking water: 34 water systems in Washington state have tested above acceptable levels of the toxic metal, according to a new investigation from USA Today.

The list includes water systems at five schools: Maple Valley Elementary, Griffin School near Olympia, Shelton Valley Christian School, Skamania Elementary and Washington State Patrol Academy.

In Flint, Mich., families are using bottled water to do everything — from cooking to bathing.

The tap water is still unsafe to drink after government officials allowed corroded lead pipes to poison the water.

People in Flint have lots of questions for those officials. Perhaps the biggest is the one Hattie Collins has.

"When are you gonna fix it? And I mean fix it right," she says.

Why the crisis over Flint's water could really happen anywhere in the US

Jan 20, 2016
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Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama declared a federal state of emergency in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been dealing with the aftermath of lead-tainted water for more than a year now. It's a situation that's led to lead poisoning and brain damage in some children.

Water contamination in Flint, Mich, — where the city switched water sources, causing pipe corrosion and ultimately filling the city's water supply with high levels of lead — has prompted President Obama to declare a state of emergency.

The move, which was requested by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, means FEMA is authorized to provide equipment and resources to the people affected. Federal funding will help cover the cost of providing water, water filters and other items.

If you looked at the children at the edge of Conrad Cooper's pool, you'd think you were watching an ad for something. Jell-O, maybe. Or a breakfast cereal kids like. They're that cute.

They're lined up on the steps in the shallow end, 10 little ones, ranging from age 2 to 5. The boys are in board trunks, many wearing rash-guard shirts like the weekend surfers they might become years from now. The girls wear bright one-piece suits and two-pieces that show their childish potbellies.

Mercergov.org Photo

Mercer Island schools reopened Tuesday as officials said the city’s water supply was safe again after increased chlorination over the weekend. But they advised residents to first run cold water from every tap in their homes for five minutes, starting on the highest floor.

Washington Department of Ecology

Washington state officials have fined a Virginia man $79,000 for illegal clearing of a San Juan Island shoreline.

It’s trouble Dave Honeywell of Fredericksburg, Virginia, wouldn’t have gotten into if he hadn’t just won the lottery.

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