Michigan will spend $1 million to buy water filters and immediately test water in public schools in Flint after testing showed elevated levels of lead in the city's children.
Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday also announced expanded health exposure testing, continued free water testing, and quicker steps to ensure that water from the Flint River is effectively treated.
The plan was created at Snyder’s direction by the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Health and Human Services (DHHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the city of Flint.
“We are focused on helping ensure safe, clean, accessible drinking water and addressing and mitigating concerns and protecting public health,” Snyder said. “Today’s action plan builds upon ongoing work with local, state and federal agencies and our partnership with city and community leaders. Together, we are working to ensure that all Flint residents have accurate information and know that help is available to address potential problems.”
The city and the state also are working together to gather more data to ensure the water that leaves the treatment plant as well as the water that arrives in Flint homes is safe for all residents. The plan includes:
Residents can have their water tested by calling 810-787-6537 and pressing 1, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The DEQ is covering the cost of this testing.
The problems arose after the city broke away from Detroit's water system to save money pending the completion of a new regional pipeline in 2016.
Flint River water is treated, but it's corrosive and releasing lead from old plumbing in thousands of homes. The county health department has declared a health emergency.
Snyder isn't ruling out a temporary switch back to Detroit water. He says discussions are ongoing.
State Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) issued a statement in response. Ananich has been critical of Snyder's response to Flint's water crisis.
"Filters and corrosion control additives are first steps, but anything less than an aggressive, comprehensive response is still unacceptable.
Our top priority remains ensuring Flint families have safe drinking water. I will continue to work to make that happen."
Congressman Dan Kildee issued the following statement on the action plan:
“The lead levels recently reported in Flint’s water are unacceptable and could cause irreversible adverse health effects, particularly among children. Flint residents deserve safe water and immediate assistance. That’s why it is absolutely necessary that the state’s efforts announced today be implemented immediately.
“Specifically, corrosion control needs to be started now. To date, corrosion control treatment has not been started in the Flint water system. Experts acknowledge that corrosion control treatment takes time once introduced – weeks or even months – to move throughout the water distribution system and fully take effect. Thus, delaying corrosion control treatment will only delay improving the water quality.
“In the interim, it is imperative that every Flint resident who needs a lead-clearing filter gets one. Since there is already an ongoing community effort to distribute filters in addition to state resources announced today, it is critical that the state work with local leaders on the ground to coordinate efforts.
“I’m calling on all parties involved to adopt a greater sense of urgency than I’ve seen demonstrated thus far. I will continue to work with city and state officials on immediate and long term solutions to improve the quality of Flint’s water.”
More information is available at www.michigan.gov/flintwater.
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