Lead contamination in water like 'living in a third-world countr - WNEM TV 5

Lead contamination in water like 'living in a third-world country'

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The lead in a city water supply is at levels so high, it’s being called a crisis.

"It kind of makes me feel like I'm living in a third world country," said Flint resident Maggie Kagen.

People in Flint have complained about the taste of their water since the city stopped buying it from Detroit and tapped the Flint River instead.

"Medically... this is unacceptable," said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Hurley Medical Center.

To say the city of Flint has problems with its drinking water, according to residents, would be an understatement. 

"It's getting ridiculous... I'm paying for something I can't use," Kagen said.

Kagen is a single mother of five who feels the state of Flint's water supply is a health crisis. And now a doctor from Hurley Medical Center is demanding it be addressed immediately.

"It's something that's needed to be said.. it's nothing new," Hanna-Attisha said.

What is new is the presence of lead in the city's drinking water.

"Because this is something that is preventable, and this is something that is causing lifelong problems," Hanna-Attisha said.

At a news conference on Thursday at Hurley Medical Center, doctors, the Genesee County Health Department and experts urged expectant mothers and new mothers of infants to not drink unfiltered tap water or use it to mix baby formula.

They said the levels of lead in certain neighborhoods have more than doubled since the city tapped its own water supply.

Residents said they are tired of hearing about what's wrong with the water, they want to know when it's going to be safe for everyone.

"You can keep saying it's a problem, it's a problem, but if you don't come up with a solution, it doesn't make sense," said Cynthia Howell, a community advocate.

Howell is one of those residents who says enough is enough – it’s time for a solution. One proposed solution at Thursday’s news conference: switch the water supply back to Detroit.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said switching the water supply still doesn't address the city's aging infrastructure. 

"We have to work long term get those lines replaced and eliminate this threat to childhood lead poisoning," Walling said.

Residents said they don't want to ignore the long-term needs of the city, but they wonder if there will be any relief in the short term. 

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