Teens collect water samples in Flint, build trust with residents

The old Bunche Elementary school has been transformed into what's now called the Flint Development Center. (Photo: WEYI/WSMH)

FLINT, Mich. - The old Bunche Elementary school has been transformed into what's now called the Flint Development Center.

Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D) Flint says "you can't get a loaf of bread, a fresh donut, you can barely get a gallon of gas and you can't deposit a dollar in a bank, so we have to have an anchor on Martin Luther King Avenue".

One of the things it's doing this summer, is to get teens helping with the testing of drinking water.

One of the team members, Nigel Crater says "I learned certain people don't trust their water and i learned how to take samples correctly".

In a pilot project, they collected samples from about 35 homes to evaluate the lead content with or without a filter.

Latia Leonard from Freshwater Future says "we have been only testing for lead. But eventually once we become a certified lab we'll test for all types of contaminates".

Organizers say this is just the start.

Mayor Karen Weaver says "we're gonna be a model city for people all around this country for people to learn from us. Cause we didn't go through a crisis for nothing."

For the pilot project, the results will be mailed back to the homes, unless there's a problem.

If they have a high lead level, they'll personally visit the resident for guidance how to move forward.

Jill Ryan, also of Freshwater Future says "they will be going back into homes and helping people understand what those testing results mean".

The program is a partnership that includes the University of Michigan biological station.

Phase 2 of the project would make a portion of this center a trusted community lab, so people could bring their water right here to the center to make sure that it's safe to drink.

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