The dirtiest part of the Flint River may be its reputation.
The river water is blamed for corroding pipes and plumbing throughout Flint and elevating lead levels in children after it became the primary source of drinking water for the city in April 2014. But experts say the river may be getting a bad rap.
“I know it’s got a bad reputation,” said Marc Edwards, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, whose research is credited with helping to expose the high lead levels in Flint. “We looked at the river very carefully. I didn’t see anything that proper treatment couldn’t render potable.”
Last August, Edwards and a team of researchers found the river water had eight times as much chloride as the Lake Huron water that was previously provided to the city by Detroit. Another experiment showed the city’s failure to add phosphates for corrosion control had left the water 19 times more corrosive to copper pipe with lead solder.