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Flint water is corroding iron pipes, according to new study

Courtesy: Flint Water Study

Researchers revealed new information Tuesday about the potential dangers of Flint's drinking water.

Those who live in Flint are already urged not to drink the water after a team of local doctors said the high lead levels pose a health risk. Now, a Virginia Tech research team says the corrosivity of the city's water is running a costly tab, as it breaks down the city's pipes.

This new study claims the water flowing through the taps in Flint is so corrosive it has taken an extra decade of life off the city's pipes, just since making the switch last year.

The researchers are using iron nails to back up their claim. They submerged a nail in Flint water and another in Detroit water. The one put in Flint water rusted out while the one in the Detroit water did not.

"The waters eating holes through the pipe," said Dr. Marc Edwards, professor, Virginia Tech University. "If iron contacts a water that's corrosive everyone knows that it rusts."

Dr. Marc Edwards is leading the team of researchers. They're using grants to study Flint's drinking water. He says the water coming from the Flint River is eight times more corrosive than Detroit water.

He recommends the city use a chemical to treat the water, but even with that the study shows Flint's water would still by nearly four times more corrosive than Detroit water.

City officials agree the infrastructure is in need of repair and say they're working on it, doing leak detection tests across the city. As far as the corrosion goes, it's something the city is still learning about.

"A lot of things we're still finding out as we go along so it's another component, another challenge that we have," said Howard Croft, Department of Public Works, City of Flint.

The iron being broken down right now in the water isn't as much of a health risk as the high lead levels, which prompted a health warning last week from a team of local doctors. But Edwards says the problem comes with cost. He says this corrosion is running a big tab. He says it's quite possible this damage will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

"It could easily change what was thought to be a money saving venture into an horrific financial disaster," said Edwards.

Tuesday, the governor's office announced they're in talks with Flint city leaders to find a solution to the drinking water problem. And the EPA says they're working with Flint leaders on implementing a treatment to control the corrosion.

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