Michigan releases action plan to resolve Flint water crisis

Michigan government releases action plan aimed at resolving lead-tainted water crisis which threatens public health

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, Thursday, March 17, 2016, to look into the circumstances surrounding high levels of lead found in many residents' tap water in Flint.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced action plans on Monday aimed at helping the city of Flint resolve a crisis concerning lead-tainted water.

The plans include replacing water fixtures and some lead service lines, improving health, increasing educational resources and boosting employment.

The plans include opening three additional child health centers in the city, adding nine school nurses, expanding a free breakfast program, screening for children’s behavioral needs, developing home mortgage financing options for undervalued homes and training for at least 500 residents to achieve long-term employment by the end of 2017.

Volunteers distribute bottled water to help combat the effects of the crisis when the city's drinking water became contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan, March 5, 2016.

Flint had switched its water source from the Detroit system to the Flint River as a temporary cost-saving measure in April 2014 while under state management, with plans eventually to use lake water again. The river water was not treated with anti-corrosion chemicals, an omission that let lead leach from old pipes into the drinking water.

Last October, after tests found high levels of lead in blood samples taken from children, Flint switched back to the Detroit system. The more corrosive water from the river leached more lead from the city pipes than Detroit water did.

Lead from aging pipes and fixtures leached into Flint homes and businesses. About 8,000 children under the age of 6 were potentially exposed to lead, and elevated lead levels have been found in at least 221 children and 104 adults in Flint. Lead is a toxic agent that can damage the nervous system.

The crisis has attracted national attention and led to calls for Snyder to resign due to the state's handling of the situation. Last week, several Democratic lawmakers criticised Snyder during testimony he provided at a hearing about the situation at Flint, a predominantly African-American city of 100,000 northwest of Detroit.

Lisia Williams of Flint, Mich. wears a shirt that reads "Flint Lives Matter" in Washington, Thursday, March 17, 2016.

The Republican governor repeatedly apologized for his role in the crisis. The city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager when it switched the source of its tap water.

On Monday, Snyder said the state was committed to addressing both short- and long-term needs of the city's residents.

"Many departments have been involved in addressing the immediate crisis in whatever way they could" he said in a statement. "At the same time, they have been working on longer-term plans."

The plan can be modified as new needs arise, state officials said.

TRTWorld and agencies