Rick Snyder, Governor for the state of Michigan, promised to drink water from a filtered tap source within the city of Flint for the next 30 days, to assure people that water there is safe for consumption, on Monday April 18, 2016.
Snyder also visited the homes of several Flint residents and heard their concerns for drinking the water. Snyder assured that he will try and ‘alleviate some of the skepticism and mistrust’ by drinking the water.
The water will be delivered to the Governor on the days he will be in the state capital Lansing, a spokesperson for Snyder told Reuters.
Governor Rick Snyder also testified before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing in Washington on March 17, 2016. The hearing was for ‘Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan, Part III’.
There have been two hearings before this one. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy also testified before the committee.
Both Snyder and McCarthy blamed each other for the water crisis in Flint to reach this current condition. McCarthy stated that the state of Michigan gave the agency misinformation and the state implemented the ‘decision without requiring corrosion control treatment’.
While Snyder called it ‘a failure of government at all levels’ and told the committee that the Department of Environmental Equality in Michigan repeatedly assured him and others that the water was safe.
US Representative Jason Chaffetz called McCarthy to resign and the Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright asked for the resignation of Governor Snyder. Whether anyone will resign is still not confirmed.
The inquiry started after the Flint water crisis surfaced in April 2014, nearly two years ago.
The water issue started when the city switched water sources from Detroit’s Lake Huron to Flint river, under the advice of a state-employed emergency manager, who was appointed by Governor Snyder himself, as a result of ‘local government financial emergency’. The move was suggested to save money.
In August 2014, the city’s water tested high for Trihalomethanes (THMs) and the city sent notice in January 2015, declaring their presence as a byproduct disinfectant used to treat the city’s water. THMs can cause nervous system, kidney, and liver problems.
The severe problem started when the new course of water corroded the pipes because anticorrosive measures were not implemented and lead leaked into the water supply.
The situation got so worse that the President of the United States, Barack Obama, declared it a federal state of emergency on January 14, 2016. The president authorized Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief efforts and provide assistance for all the required emergency measures.
According to a White House press release, “FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.”
The city switched to Detroit water system in October 2015.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that the incidence of elevated blood lead levels increased to 4.9 percent after the water source changed, and the areas with highest lead levels saw a 6.6 percent increase. No significant change was registered outside the city and the disadvantaged neighborhoods saw the greatest lead blood level increase in children.
MSNBC reported that children under six with elevated blood lead levels were nearly 200, and the children under six that were exposed were nearly 9,000.
A USA Today report has also found excessive lead levels in almost 2,000 water systems across all fifty states. The report claims that the tests in ‘cities, rural subdivisions, schools and daycares serving water to six million people have found excessive and harmful levels of lead’.
Currently, America has 7.3 million lead pipe service lines for water. Administrators at state and federal level do not even know where some of them are currently.
Lead can cause irreversible damage in children with symptoms like reduced attention span, antisocial behavior, poor language skills, and lower intelligence quotient (IQ). At high quantities lead can even cause death.
Children under six are very vulnerable to the effects of lead. A child can be poisoned by just 10mg of pure lead.