Reflections on the Flint Water Heater Sampling Trip (June 2016)

For two weeks at the end of June, the Flint Water Study Team led a sampling effort which included a 14 person “sampling team,” which traveled to Flint, MI to collect samples, and an 8 person “lab team,” that stayed behind to process the samples. The purpose of this study was to look for the presence of Legionella bacteria in the homes of Flint residents – especially in the water heaters and hot water taps – located near the McLaren and Hurley Hospitals. We also wanted to determine if a simple water heater flushing protocol could be used to improve hot water quality. During the effort we sampled kitchen and bathroom taps, water heater drain valves, and cold flushed water from the distribution system at a total of 32 homes.

When the students were not knee deep in sampling, they got a chance to explore the Flint community. One of the community helpers with Orchard Children Services, Mr. Ronnie Russel, took the team to Bertson Field House to get a great lesson on Flint history from Mr. Bryant “BB” Nolden, a community hero. The team watched the weekly community baseball game, along with some delicious barbeque chicken and popsicles (thanks Mr. Ronnie). The students appreciated the good people, food, and music in preparation for another week of sampling.

Although sampling is over, the residents, plumbers, and volunteers we were able to connect with will never be forgotten. We would like to give a big thanks to all of the homeowners who volunteered in this effort. We’d also like to thank all the volunteers from Orchard Children Services and the plumbers who helped us every step along the way. This study could not have been conducted without them. Finally, we have to give a huge thank you to MDEQ for helping us with scheduling and for providing residents with answers to any questions they had.

We’re working on getting this data processed right now, and will post a summary as soon as we have it. Stay tuned!

Primary Author: Taylor N. Bradley

Acknowledgements: William Rhoads

3 thoughts on “Reflections on the Flint Water Heater Sampling Trip (June 2016)

  1. Thanks VT, we so appreciate YOU ALL. <3
    Glad you got to see MY CITY- the one that i love and choose to live in, your help can maybe get us back to a healthy and happy life with fresh clean drinking water from our faucets!?! Oh the simple pleasures to just turn on the faucet and just brush my teeth, wash my produce, no cases of water all over, and etc.!!!!


  2. The Flint poisoning breaks my heart. I’ve watched all 3 hearings and numerous videos on this problem. This is a beautiful way to continue the updates – not just the horrendous side of people going thru this nightmare; but, this story brings out the human-ness of the Flint residents.

    So, thank you: for bringing the people to life with stories, food, and photos.

  3. Did they have to get into the pipes and do a hot tap? I have heard that they can do that to test the water that we are getting in the pipes. It would really make a difference and help people figure out how good the water is that we are getting.

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