What The Flint Water Crisis Means For Idaho Regulators

Jan 21, 2016

The contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan has brought the issue of lead poisoning to many people’s attention. The brown-colored water from the Flint River was not treated for lead, and children in the town are especially vulnerable to getting sick. The crisis in Michigan has caused drinking water regulators to take another look at their own systems – including in Idaho.

Jerri Henry is the Drinking Water Manager at the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). She says the issues in Flint occurred in large part because the water in the Flint River was not treated properly. The untreated water leached the lead out of the pipes, which came through people’s faucets and into their glasses.

“We do have roughly 15 systems in the state that actually add some sort of corrosion treatment to them," says Henry, "and those are mostly in Northern Idaho.”

She says generally speaking, old homes and neighborhoods often have lead piping. But if water is treated correctly, the lead does not become a problem. 

Henry says what happened in Michigan is high on her radar. She says the department has reviewed past lead level results, and that lead isn’t a concern in the state.

“We’re really focused on public health. That’s our goal, that’s our mission, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Henry says if people have concerns about their water, to get in touch with the DEQ as soon as possible. 

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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