FLINT (WWJ/AP) – Flint Mayor-Elect Karen Weaver says the city is in desperate need of federal help over its water crisis.
“Flint really needs to be declared a national disaster area,” Weaver, who will be Flint’s first female mayor when she’s sworn in next Monday, told WWJ’s Beth Fisher.
Flint last month reconnected to Detroit’s water system in hopes of resolving a health emergency spurred by a switch to river water that was aimed at saving money but left children with elevated lead levels.
Residents were urged not to drink the water, a public health emergency was declared and it cost about $12 million to make the switch.
“We’ve got some challenges here because, even though we’ve switched back to the Detroit water, our infrastructure has been damaged,” Weaver said. “And so we still have issues with lead coming though the water.”
Using the Flint River was supposed to be an interim source until the city can join a new system getting water from Lake Huron that’s scheduled to be completed next year.
Residents complained about the smell, taste and appearance of the river water, and reported adverse health reactions. A General Motors plant stopped using the water because it was causing excessive rust.
Officials said Flint residents might still see discoloration or notice some taste and odor issues during the transition back to Detroit water as the city’s primary interim source.
“We know that this city nor the state has the resources to handle this, so we need some federal assistance,” she said. “So that’s one of the things that, you know, we’ve talked about. And so I need to reach out and work with our state representatives and our senator and work with the governor to get this thing going, because we need help in the city of Flint.”
Gov. Rick Snyder already approved $9.3 million in water-related aid for Flint that includes money for home water filters inspections, health services and lab testing.
Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, of Flint, says there are a lot of questions yet to be answered concerning the city’s water woes.
Speaking live on WWJ on Wednesday, Ananich said job number one is making sure the water is totally safe for residents.
“The source of the water is much safer now,” Ananich said. “It still takes time for the corrosion control to recoat the pipes and have water that people can be assured is drinkable, so people still need to take precautions.
“But now we’re sort of in the phase of investigating what happened.”
Flint began using the Flint River for its water supply in April of 2014
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