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Table 1

Comparison of the four household-level lead remediation strategies used during the Flint Water Crisis

Reduction in WLLs (μg/L)
Financial costsa
Initial water lead valueIntervention water lead valuePercent of samples reduced <ALCost of water per gallonbInstallation and maintenance feesNon-exhaustive tangible and intangible impacts Potential impacts in Flint
Flushing Home of resident zeroc (1 home; 32 samples) First draw of 2,171 μg/L 3,550 μg/L
at 1 min 
0% <$0.001 Volume of water flushed
1 min: 8.3 L (2.2 gal)
3 min: 24.9 L (6.6 gal)
5 min: 41.5 L (11.0 gal)
25 min: 207.5 L (55.0 gal)
Price of water flushed
$0.002 per 1-min flush
$0.006 per 3-min flush
$0.01 per 5-min flush
$0.05 per 25-min flush 
Extra water use burden on water utility with morning and afternoon 3 min flush
Daily: 2.2 million L (0.6 million gal)
30 days: 65 million L (17 million gal)
Extra water use burden on household with morning and afternoon 3 min flush
Daily: $0.01
30 days: $0.35
Other considerations:
  • - Cost of water for local utility

  • - Water scarcity challenges

  • - Water and wastewater treatment burden

  • - Infrastructure impacts

  • - Additional demand

  • - Educating residents on the protocol

  • - Prompting intervention adoption

  • - Developing education materials

  • - Perception of water safety

 
1,412 μg/L
at 3 min 
2,542 μg/L
at 5 min 
1,742 μg/L
at 25 min 
Community-wide in August 2015d (268 homes; 3 samples per home) 90th percentile of 26.8 μg/L 11.3 μg/L
at 1 min 
94% 
6.6 μg/L
at 3 min 
96% 
Community-wide in March 2016d (156 homes; 3 samples per home) 90th percentile of 22.4 μg/L 9.0 μg/L
at 1 min 
96% 
3.2 μg/L
at 3 min 
99% 
Bottled water (costs and water lead estimates derived from three samples from each of five brands)e – <1 μg/L 100% $0.77–$8.32e Family of four drinking and cooking water needs
Daily: 5 L (1.3 gal)
30 day: 600 L (159 gal)
Price of bottled water
30 day: $122.05
Save $0.14 on water bill 
Plastic bottle to solid waste
Daily: 5–40 bottles
30 days: 159–1,200 bottles
Other considerations:
  • - Ongoing cost of bottled water

  • - Reduced water use from utility

  • - Resident may use less water (7 gal/day compared to 100 gal/day)

  • - Transportation to procurement/distribution of bottled water

  • - Trash/recycle burden

  • - Environmental and utility burden of discarded materials

  • - Benefit of the avoidance of other contaminants and taste/odor compounds

  • - Educating residents on bottled water use

  • - Prompting intervention adoption

  • - Developing education materials

 
NSF 53 filters Home of Resident Zerof (1 unfiltered and 1 filtered sample) Influent of 13,200 μg/L 20 μg/L 0% < $0.001 Installation:
$15–50 for filter unit
Maintenance:
$10–15 per cartridge
Tap-mounted: replace filters every 3–4 months
Pitcher style: replace filters every 1–2 months 
Other considerations:
  • - Ongoing cost of filter replacements

  • - Burden of getting initial and replacement filters

  • - Environmental and utility burden of discarded filters

  • - Benefit of the avoidance of other contaminants and taste/odor compounds

  • - Educating residents on the protocol

  • - Prompting intervention adoption

  • - Developing education materials

  • - Perception of water safety

  • - Perceived risk of microbial contamination

 
Community-wideg (241 homes; 1 unfiltered and 1 filtered sample per home) Unfiltered 90th percentile of 68 μg/L Filtered 90th percentile of <1 μg/L 100% 
LSL replacemente(1 house; 18 samples) First draw of 2,171 μg/Lc 2.1 μg/L
first draw
<1 μg/L
at 1 min
32.4 μg/L
at 2 min 
94% <$0.001 Estimated $2,800 to replace 25 ft. LSL and 192 ft. galvanized iron service line Other considerations:
  • - Perception of safety

  • - One-time high cost to utility

  • - Cost to consumer for full LSLR

  • - Removal, transportation, and disposal old materials

 
Reduction in WLLs (μg/L)
Financial costsa
Initial water lead valueIntervention water lead valuePercent of samples reduced <ALCost of water per gallonbInstallation and maintenance feesNon-exhaustive tangible and intangible impacts Potential impacts in Flint
Flushing Home of resident zeroc (1 home; 32 samples) First draw of 2,171 μg/L 3,550 μg/L
at 1 min 
0% <$0.001 Volume of water flushed
1 min: 8.3 L (2.2 gal)
3 min: 24.9 L (6.6 gal)
5 min: 41.5 L (11.0 gal)
25 min: 207.5 L (55.0 gal)
Price of water flushed
$0.002 per 1-min flush
$0.006 per 3-min flush
$0.01 per 5-min flush
$0.05 per 25-min flush 
Extra water use burden on water utility with morning and afternoon 3 min flush
Daily: 2.2 million L (0.6 million gal)
30 days: 65 million L (17 million gal)
Extra water use burden on household with morning and afternoon 3 min flush
Daily: $0.01
30 days: $0.35
Other considerations:
  • - Cost of water for local utility

  • - Water scarcity challenges

  • - Water and wastewater treatment burden

  • - Infrastructure impacts

  • - Additional demand

  • - Educating residents on the protocol

  • - Prompting intervention adoption

  • - Developing education materials

  • - Perception of water safety

 
1,412 μg/L
at 3 min 
2,542 μg/L
at 5 min 
1,742 μg/L
at 25 min 
Community-wide in August 2015d (268 homes; 3 samples per home) 90th percentile of 26.8 μg/L 11.3 μg/L
at 1 min 
94% 
6.6 μg/L
at 3 min 
96% 
Community-wide in March 2016d (156 homes; 3 samples per home) 90th percentile of 22.4 μg/L 9.0 μg/L
at 1 min 
96% 
3.2 μg/L
at 3 min 
99% 
Bottled water (costs and water lead estimates derived from three samples from each of five brands)e – <1 μg/L 100% $0.77–$8.32e Family of four drinking and cooking water needs
Daily: 5 L (1.3 gal)
30 day: 600 L (159 gal)
Price of bottled water
30 day: $122.05
Save $0.14 on water bill 
Plastic bottle to solid waste
Daily: 5–40 bottles
30 days: 159–1,200 bottles
Other considerations:
  • - Ongoing cost of bottled water

  • - Reduced water use from utility

  • - Resident may use less water (7 gal/day compared to 100 gal/day)

  • - Transportation to procurement/distribution of bottled water

  • - Trash/recycle burden

  • - Environmental and utility burden of discarded materials

  • - Benefit of the avoidance of other contaminants and taste/odor compounds

  • - Educating residents on bottled water use

  • - Prompting intervention adoption

  • - Developing education materials

 
NSF 53 filters Home of Resident Zerof (1 unfiltered and 1 filtered sample) Influent of 13,200 μg/L 20 μg/L 0% < $0.001 Installation:
$15–50 for filter unit
Maintenance:
$10–15 per cartridge
Tap-mounted: replace filters every 3–4 months
Pitcher style: replace filters every 1–2 months 
Other considerations:
  • - Ongoing cost of filter replacements

  • - Burden of getting initial and replacement filters

  • - Environmental and utility burden of discarded filters

  • - Benefit of the avoidance of other contaminants and taste/odor compounds

  • - Educating residents on the protocol

  • - Prompting intervention adoption

  • - Developing education materials

  • - Perception of water safety

  • - Perceived risk of microbial contamination

 
Community-wideg (241 homes; 1 unfiltered and 1 filtered sample per home) Unfiltered 90th percentile of 68 μg/L Filtered 90th percentile of <1 μg/L 100% 
LSL replacemente(1 house; 18 samples) First draw of 2,171 μg/Lc 2.1 μg/L
first draw
<1 μg/L
at 1 min
32.4 μg/L
at 2 min 
94% <$0.001 Estimated $2,800 to replace 25 ft. LSL and 192 ft. galvanized iron service line Other considerations:
  • - Perception of safety

  • - One-time high cost to utility

  • - Cost to consumer for full LSLR

  • - Removal, transportation, and disposal old materials

 

aIntervention costs (bottled water, filters, and LSL replacements) were provided to Flint residents at no cost at times during recovery.

bCost of water in Flint (RFC 2016).

cWater lead measured in April 2015 (Pieper et al. 2017).

dWater lead measured in August 2015 and March 2016 (Pieper et al. 2018a).

eMeasurements and data collected during this effort.

fFilter assessment at Virginia Tech in February 2016 (Edwards 2016).

gFilter assessment by USEPA in January 2016 (U.S. EPA 2016a).

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