FLINT – At a press conference this morning, Gov. Rick Snyder said that the city of Flint will return to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) line for water service. The move is due to concerns over lead contamination since Flint switched over to its own water source from the Flint River.
The cost to reconnect with the DWSD would amount to $12 million. Gov. Rick Snyder is asking the Legislature to approve a $6 million grant from the state, while the Mott Foundation would donate $4 million and the city of Flint would pay $2 million. State Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) urges the state to pick up the entire tab, since it was the emergency manager appointed by Gov. Snyder who made the decision to switch to Flint’s own water source.
Rep. Neeley called for state government to be more proactive in testing lead levels in the children of Flint by addressing a letter to Dr. Eden Wells of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). In the letter, Rep. Neeley asked that DHHS engage in pathways that address early detection of future problems. Rep. Neeley is still awaiting a response to the letter, which was also sent to the governor’s office and DHHS director Nick Lyon.
Detection is imperative now more than ever, as schools in the Flint School District – Eisenhower and Freeman elementary schools, as well as Brownell/Holmes STEM academies – tested above the safety standard for lead levels set by the government. Rep. Neeley sees this issue as beyond urgent.
“The concern shifts to the long-standing health risks that are present now and possibly into the future, and we must provide treatment for those affected by the high levels of lead in the water,” Neeley said. “Dr. Wells commented on lead dust in the home and lead paint in the kitchen recently, but nowhere is the direct problem of lead in the water addressed. We have schoolchildren drinking water that is exponentially over the acceptable limit of lead as presented by the Environmental Protection Agency. I will not rest until action is taken to protect our children now and for the future.”