Sheriff's department making adjustments in light of water crisis - WNEM TV 5

Sheriff's department making adjustments in light of water crisis

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

It's no secret that Flint residents are concerned that the city's water is bad for their health.

But, they aren't the only ones worried about the water's safety.

The issue has forced Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell to make some tough and costly decisions.

"I am not using water out of the Flint River. We stopped doing that on Friday," Pickell said.

After the sheriff decided to stop using the water at the Sheriff's Department, employees when out to buy thousands of dollars on bottled water and dry food.

The sheriff's department is located in Flint and houses the county jail.

He said a four day supply of bottled water for the more than 650 inmates, which are served 2,000 meals a day, cost about $4,800.

"It's expensive, but my concern is if one of the inmates got sick on the lead, we'd have a lawsuit which would be a lot more expensive than the water," Pickell said.

The sheriff said the bill for the water and the $5,500 spent on dry food for the inmates will go to the Genessee County Board of Commissioners. And will be paid by tax payers.

Something Pickell said he knows people aren't happy about.

"The tax payers are paying for bottled water for themselves and the inmates get it for free. I get it," Pickell said. "I get why people in the community are upset about it."

He said the water at the jail is currently being tested.

If no lead or other harmful chemicals are detected, Pickell will adjust the plan.

But for now, he plans to keep buying bottled water until he knows the water at the jail is safe.

"If I do nothing, I guarantee you there will be lawsuits," Pickell said.

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