State will pay for Flint residents' water in May to encourage flushing of pipes

Leaders ask public to flush water pipes to expel lead

FLINT, Mich. – The state will pay for water used by Flint residents in the month of May to help encourage people to flush the pipes in an effort to restore water quality in the city faster, Gov. Rick Snyder announced Thursday.

“The state will cover 100 percent of the cost of water people use in May to help offset the extra usage for flushing pipes," Snyder said. "Flushing the pipes is essential for restoring the city's water system and increasing the water quality in every home." 

(Watch video from the announcement below)

Government and independent water quality experts have recommended a flushing protocol for all Flint homes.

Residents are urged to flush their homes’ pipes every day for at least two weeks in May to ensure phosphates coat the water pipes completely and help keep lead out of the water.

In addition to the pipe flushing program being coordinated by the city and state, expanded Medicaid coverage is available in Flint. 

On May 9, an estimated 15,000 more children and pregnant women under Flint’s water system and have incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level became eligible for a no-cost Medicaid plan. 

Residents can sign up online at michigan.gov/mibridges or by phone at 1-855-789-5610. Parents also can sign up their children with a Pathways to Potential caseworker in any Flint-area public school.

Flushing Instructions:

  • Step 1: Run cold water at the highest flow in the bathtub for 5 minutes. Do not use the showerhead because it has a lower flow rate.
  • Step 2: Bypass or remove your filter, then run cold water at the highest flow from the kitchen faucet for 5 minutes. Remember to turn your filter back on or reinstall it when done. EPA testing has shown filters are effective at removing even very high levels of lead.
  • Step 3: Do this every day for 14 days.

Aerator Cleaning:

  • Residents also need to clean the aerators of sink faucets once per week to remove any pieces of lead that may be or may become trapped inside the screen.
  • Aerators are the small screens which screw inside the opening of a faucet. Their job is to improve water flow and to catch any particles that may be floating loose in a home’s pipes.

A consensus among state, federal and independent water quality experts shows Flint’s water quality continues to improve and is safe to drink as long as a filter is in place. Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers and children under 6 continue to drink bottled water. 

Flint is under a state of emergency after the city, under state management, switched to using the Flint River but failed to add the proper chemical treatment. Lead from old pipes leached into the water, and people were exposed for months before the emergency declaration was made in October.

Lead can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities and health problems in children.










More coverage: The Flint Water Crisis