FLINT, Mich. (AP) – The consequences of using the Flint River for the city’s drinking water weren’t “fully understood,” Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday as he again pledged to take action later this week in response to significant levels of lead.
Separately, The Flint Journal reported that Snyder’s office worked with a donor last month to arrange 1,500 water filters for Flint, which were distributed free to people by churches. The governor’s involvement was never publicized, the newspaper reported, because pastors said they were told to stay quiet.
“If the water was OK, why would the governor work with someone to provide the filters?” the Rev. Alfred Harris told the newspaper. “I think the state working with the private donor is an admission the people needed some help.”
The 99,000-resident city has a water crisis. While it awaits a new pipeline to Lake Huron, the city has been drawing and treating water from the Flint River since spring 2014. But the corrosive nature of the water apparently is releasing lead from old plumbing as it moves through homes.
Flint now is telling residents to use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula, and recommending they use a filter that is certified for lead removal.
“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is we found there are probably things that weren’t as fully understood when that switch was made,” Snyder told reporters in Lansing, referring to Flint dropping out of the Detroit water system while the pipeline was being built.
The decision was made while a Snyder-appointed emergency manager was running city government.
The controversy took a substantial turn last week when a group of doctors called a news conference to report high levels of lead in blood samples from children. Virginia Tech researchers have also warned people about the water.
The governor said he will announce “more tangible action items” to deal with the water problems by the end of week. As for the filters supplied by a donor, Snyder said they were intended to give people “more confidence and comfort in their water supply.”
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