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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / January 

Researcher who helped expose lead in Flint, Michigan water barred from testing South Carolina well water

January 31, 2018

Image of Marc Edwards
Marc Edwards, the Charles Lunsford Professor with the Virginia Tech Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Virginia Tech researcher who helped expose the Flint, Michigan water crisis in 2016 is now working with residents concerned about their drinking water in a small town in South Carolina. The only problem? The town’s mayor won’t honor the residents request to let Marc Edwards test the town’s wells for contamination.   

There is concern that sewage leaks near the well in Denmark, South Carolina, may be seeping into the potable water supply. However, Mayor Gerald Wright says the team from Virginia Tech doesn’t need to check the town’s water because the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) already has found it to be safe. But DHEC has admitted they have not tested for bacteria problems in the well water for several years. 

Following resident complaints last fall, Edwards and his team found lead contamination and discolored water in some Denmark homes. He now wants to test to see whether bacteria tainted the wells that supply Denmark’s water.  

“I don’t understand the mayor’s flip-flopping, nor do I understand how any water system in the country can defend not allowing samples to be collected of the water source,” Edwards told The State newspaper. “The wells are behind a locked fence, and I can’t go in and touch town property.” 

Marc Edwards, University Distiniguished Professor and the Charles Lunsford Professor with the Virginia Tech Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, is an established expert on water treatment and corrosion who most recently gained international praise for his ongoing work in Flint. 

To arrange a print or broadcast interview with Marc Edwards, email Bill Foy or call 540-231-8719 or 540-998-0288.

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