To the Kettering Community of Parents of our Students and our Alumni:
I know that you value the excellence of education we provide, but I expect as alumni or parents of students currently enrolled at our great University you are concerned about the barrage of news about Flint's water supply. I am a proud parent of a Kettering student, and my family and I reside in Flint, so I understand deeply and very personally how you might be feeling about the situation as reported in the media.
Last week, I sent a detailed Kettering Water Update letter to our campus and to our students. Because I know (from direct experience!) that students may not always communicate promptly with their parents on even important issues, I thought I would take a moment to update you and our alumni directly on this issue, because I know it is a subject of concern.
Unfortunately, as is often the case in public crises, a great deal of misinformation about the water supply in Flint is being reported as fact. Just as distressingly, though, a great deal of important information that we do have about the situation is also not being reported.
Kettering campus water is safe, and our faculty, staff, students, and campus residents are not being exposed to contaminated water on campus. We are, and have been even before the current crisis emerged, committed to ongoing testing of our water to ensure the safety of the campus water supply. Moreover, the entire water supply of Flint has not been contaminated with lead; although some sections of the city have experienced problems, some severe, other sections have not.
All of us deplore that any single person has been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in the water; however, many, many people living in Flint have not been exposed to water containing elevated levels of lead in their residences or places of business.
I also want to clarify that the water from the Flint River that was used as the city's water source from April 2014 through October 2015 was not contaminated with lead. The contamination, where it occurred, was due primarily to interactions between treated river water and lead supply lines in the distribution system, particularly in the lead lines connecting individual houses to local water mains. This is not a global problem with the water, but a problem with how that water - after treatment - interacted with some pipes and other elements of the city's distribution system. The interaction was often (considerably) different - even house-by-house on a single block.
In the full version of this letter, which I encourage you to read, I outline for you what we know about the nature of the contamination of the Flint system, how the University has responded to it, what we have done and are doing on an ongoing basis to ensure the integrity and safety of drinking water on the campus, and how we are working to ensure that those in the campus community who live off-campus in private housing have access to appropriate information, tests, and filters to ensure and monitor the safety of their private supplies.
Because I want to document what I write, my letter includes footnotes that will lead you, if you are interested, to the sources of my information, something I learned to do as a faculty member and still highly value. We are committed to deploying every resource at our disposal to continue to ensure the safety of our entire campus community and our visitors. I hope that as members of the Kettering Community that the information presented in this letter is helpful to you.
We value your input; if you have questions, comments, or thoughts on this issue, we welcome you to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also established a web page, kettering.edu/water, with links to resources that include water test results for our campus, contact information, and other materials that also may be of interest to you.
Dr. Robert K. McMahan
Kettering University President