Nearly 100 percent of Flint homes with new water lines show safe lead levels

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The latest round of tests conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality show Flint homes with water line replacements have lower lead levels in drinking water.

Some 99.4 percent of homes that received new water service lines tested well below federal guidelines. Only one of 170 tests showed alarming lead levels in the drinking water, according to a DEQ press release issued Tuesday.

The state launched the Confirming Lead Elimination After Replacement -- or CLEAR -- program in April to collect lead levels in water before lead-based service lines were replaced and then for six months after the lines were replaced.

One test exceeded the federal guideline of 15 parts per billion of lead or copper. However, a full 90 percent of tests showed 2 parts per billion or less of lead, which is an improvement over the 6 parts per billion level for 90 percent of tests when sampling began.

“This CLEAR data is reassuring because it’s in line with 14 months of testing that shows Flint’s water is well below federal action levels and that the system continues to stabilize,” said Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and former interim director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality who remains the principal on Flint water. "The service line replacement program is an important component of the continued improvements to the Flint water system.”

More than 70 percent of homes tested had undetectable levels of lead in their water in the last round of testing, which compares to 54.5 percent of homes with lead levels below 1 part per billion in April before service line replacement.

So far, more than 5,100 Flint residences have received new service lines.

Some experts have expressed concern that replacing water service lines could disturb some lead sediment in a home's system and release it into the drinking water. The CLEAR study is meant to show whether that actually happens.

Municipal water systems around the country are expected to use data from the CLEAR study as they plan for replacing lead service lines.

The DEQ says the data shows water filters aren't required after lead service lines are replaced. However, officials still recommend people continue using water filters for six months after a lead service line is replaced out of an abundance of caution.