Virginia Tech researchers announce Flint water is safe

The team that first brought attention to the crisis presents findings

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Drinking water in Flint, Michigan, is back to normal, for the most part. That’s what the Virginia Tech researchers who helped bring attention to the problem said Friday.

Virginia Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards said, in most respects, the crisis is over. The announcement came on the two-year anniversary of his initial warning of lead contamination in Flint.

“Today, we have equally definitive data showing that the levels of these parameters currently in Flint water are now back to normal levels for a city with old lead pipes," Edwards said.

Edwards and graduate student Siddhartha Roy said the water there, which they’ve been monitoring since 2015, certainly isn’t perfect, but it meets federal standards.

“We went back for the fifth time specifically to look at lead and in this case conduct a city-wide assessment to see how things were looking," Roy said.

The Virginia Tech team, which would later include 45 people, were asked to research lead levels after children in Flint started showing symptoms of exposure. They said this fifth sampling, which they did last month, should be the last.

“Without the students, none of this would have happened," Edwards said.

Even though the lead levels are low, Edwards says the trust in government might be low also.

“There’s still a crisis of confidence amongst Flint residents that’s not going to be restored any time soon," he said.

He said this has sparked conversations nationwide about what needs to be done to ensure safe drinking water.

"Cities like Flint and other cities around the country have to decide what else they need to do to protect themselves to make sure that vulnerable groups are not being exposed to too much lead through their drinking water," he said. "But that’s a national battle that needs to be fought.”

Edwards said people in Flint should still be using a lead filter.