Snyder signs bill to prevent future water crisis - WNEM TV 5

Snyder signs bill to prevent future water crisis

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Credit: Executive Office of Gov. Rick Snyder Credit: Executive Office of Gov. Rick Snyder
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

More than 15 months after Flint's water emergency broke open, Gov. Rick Snyder has signed the first policy bill stemming from the man-made crisis.

The governor signed legislation in Flint Friday requiring utilities to more quickly warn water customers if there is too much lead. The deadline is being cut to three business days instead of 30 days.

"This is about dealing with the tragic crisis we've suffered through and in particular, the people of Flint went through something they shouldn't have had to go through," Snyder said.

The bill was introduced by State Rep. Sheldon Neeley. He said it's a step towards changing the way the state looks at water quality. Neeley said it is part of a process to remedy what happened to residents.

Snyder said he intends to use this legislative session to push for higher water standards across the board.

"We need to change those levels. We need to have stricter standards," Snyder said.

Snyder and lawmakers previously allocated hundreds of millions of dollars toward the crisis. Residents continue drinking either filtered tap water or bottled water.

The last round of testing showed the 90th percentile of lead concentrations in Flint was 8 parts per billion, below the "action level" of 15 parts per billion. Experts will assess the water at a summit in Chicago next week, but the state says no major announcements are expected.

Some residents said they still don't trust the filtered water.

"I am actually ahead on my water bill and the only thing I can do with my water is wash my clothing in it and I have to wear gloves," said Deborah Hughes, Flint resident.

The 17-year-old said more needs to be done.

"Gov. Snyder is not stepping up to the plate. This is an infrastructure problem. Our taxes pay for infrastructure quality and so it needs to be fixed," Hughes said.

Snyder's spokesperson encouraged residents to keep their faucets running.

"If we can keep the water flowing through the pipes in Flint the water quality will continue to improve. It makes things much, much more easier for people that have to haul bottled water," said Ari Adler, Snyder's spokesperson.

Adler said the governor's office is aware of the lack of trust from Flint residents.

"Building up trust with folks is going to take some time and we need people to start to trust that what they are hearing is true and so that's why the governor has said all along he's not going to pick a date arbitrarily. He wants to hear from water quality experts from around the country," Adler said.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) issued this statement following the signing:

“Flint residents unknowingly drank lead-contaminated water for months before authorities acknowledged it was tainted. Now, with HB 5120 enacted, authorities will be required to alert the public within 3 days of detecting actionable lead levels.

“This legislation is a part of a broader legislative agenda that includes a number of measures I have introduced. My bills to lower the lead action level, create a Water Resources Commission to oversee department policies, establish a fund for drinking water system improvements and make Flint an eligible promise zone for students all need to be acted on with urgency.”

Congressman Dan Kildee issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to see the Governor sign this common sense piece of legislation into law to help prevent another water crisis from happening elsewhere. Hopefully today’s action will inspire a greater sense of urgency for both the Governor and the Michigan Legislature to pass additional state aid for the ongoing emergency in my hometown. Congress has acted on federal aid and now the State of Michigan, who created this man-made crisis, needs to step up to do more to help Flint families. This crisis is not over.”

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