Gov. Rick Snyder: Move back to Detroit water provides best protection for public health in Flint

Posted by MiWeek Editor on

FLINT, Mich. – Flint families and children will be better protected by reconnecting with the Great Lakes Water Authority as the source of the city’s drinking water until the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline is completed, Gov. Rick Snyder said.

Snyder said Thursday that he will request the state Legislature to provide half, or $6 million, of the $12 million needed to reconnect with the authority through next summer, when the KWA is expected to be completed. The Flint city government will provide $2 million and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has committed $4 million.

“All Flint residents need clean, safe drinking water,” Snyder said. “The technical experts helping the city on its water advisory all agree this move back to the Great Lakes Water Authority provides the best public health protection for children and families. This effort today is the result of people coming together to solve a problem. I appreciate Detroit’s willingness to reconnect with Flint, the Mott Foundation’s generous commitment, and the dedication of all parties to come together to protect Flint families and children.”

Flint city leaders requested the state’s help to fund the reconnection and to assist with health and infrastructure issues. Flint’s move to the Great Lakes Water Authority is expected to cost about $1.3 million per month until the Karegnondi Water Authority is completed next summer.

“It’s heartening to know so many people are working at so many levels to bring safe, clean water back to Flint,” Mott Foundation President Ridgway White said. “We believe this transitional solution is the right and necessary thing to do, and we’re glad we could help the state and the city make it happen.”

The move to Detroit water, which is expected to carry, carries many public health benefits. As large bodies of water, the Great Lakes are naturally prone to fewer problems from large rain events and other runoff issues that can sometimes be present in shallower rivers. Additionally, the Great Lakes Water Authority water already has additional corrosion control, using phosphates to help coat the insides of pipes and limit lead from leaching into the water.

However, reconnecting with the authority will not completely resolve the city’s problem with lead service lines or aging infrastructure. It will take time for pipes in Flint to become coated with the phosphate corrosion control. Additionally, some households in the city could experience lead in their drinking water until all lead pipes and plumbing are replaced.

"Reconnecting to Detroit is the fastest way to deliver clean, safe water to Flint and stabilize the infrastructure system,” Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said. “I appreciate the state, the Mott Foundation, Detroit, and the county's participation in a solution for Flint's water problems. The health and safety of Flint's families, children and seniors is my top priority, and reconnecting to Detroit is a major step that the city could not take alone given budget constraints."

To best protect public health, Snyder said state and local authorities will continue to carry out steps outlined on Oct. 2 in a comprehensive action plan, including continued testing, the use of faucet filters and providing residents with accurate information about steps to eliminate lead exposure. The Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services today also committed an additional $3.5 million for water filters, free lead testing through the state laboratory for Flint water customers, and hiring additional staff to conduct health exposure monitoring for lead in drinking water.

Free filters are available for current MDHHS clients at the 125 E. Union St. or 4809 Clio Road MDHHS office locations. For residents who are not currently enrolled in MDHHS assistance programs, free filters are available at the Genesee County Community Action Resource Department offices at 2727 Lippincott and 601 North Saginaw in Flint. Staff will be at all four locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, to distribute filters and assist residents who have questions about proper installation. At the Lippincott location only, extended hours will be offered this weekend, including until 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Other good practices for residents concerned about lead include turning on the cold water tap and running the water until it’s as cold as it will go. Additionally, only use cold water for cooking, drinking and especially mixing baby formula.

School test results released; more investigation planned

The state today also released the first results from its lead screening program in schools and homes. Of 37 total samples taken at 13 buildings, four samples spread over three buildings exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

However, this sampling provides only an initial screen, and the state is committing to further testing water and inspecting plumbing at these schools. Until testing is complete, schools are advised to continue using bottled water and filtration as a precaution to protect children.

In addition, free testing is still available for any other Flint school, including daycares and Head Starts. Free testing is also available for any Flint resident.

Additional information, including more detailed lead screening results, is available at www.michigan.gov/flintwater.

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