Residents of Flint, Michigan have been without clean water for almost five years. Today, the thirsty residents found out their Republican governor, who allowed lead to poison the city’s water supply, will no longer be providing the town with bottled water.
The water crisis in Flint has flowed in and out of the news cycle since late 2015 when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder requested bottled water be distributed to inhabitants after the town’s mayor declared a crisis in late 2015.
The program was intended to be a safe alternative to the city’s lead-polluted tap water. The duration of the program was supposed to be contingent upon reaching “safe” levels of lead in the water.
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Even though those levels have yet to be reached, mLive reports Snyder has decided to cut the program.
“We have worked diligently to restore the water quality and the scientific data now proves the water system is stable and the need for bottled water has ended,” Snyder noted in a press release, continuing, “since Flint’s water is now well within the standards set by the federal government, we will now focus even more of our efforts on continuing with the health, education and economic development assistance needed to help move Flint forward.”
Though Snyder claims the issue has been resolved, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver disagrees. After the announcement was made today, Weaver sent a letter to her greedy governor imploring him to continue providing the service.
“As I have stated before and will continue to say, this is not what I want for our city and I stand by my position that free bottled water should be provided to the people of Flint until the last known lead-tainted pipe has been replaced,” she pleaded.
The discrepancy between Snyder and Weaver comes down to the nuances of the testing process, which Weaver claims are being unfairly skewed.
The federal action level for lead is 15 ppb (parts per billion), and the most recent testing puts 90% of Flint’s residents at 4 ppb, well under the legal limit. In this case, residents might still need to filter or boil water, but from Snyder’s perspective, bottled water is no longer necessary.
Weaver maintains the state has not thoroughly tested the water supply. Specifically, the bottled water program was only meant to end when lead levels dropped below federal action level for a 6 month period or longer. Testing during the last six months of last year did show that improvement, but Flint Community Schools were only tested in the last month, and those results don’t support the governor’s decision.
More than 4 percent of water samples collected in the final round of testing at Flint Community Schools’ buildings had elevated levels of lead, according to reports published online by the MDEQ.
The final tests in the city’s public school buildings showed at least one instance of water with at least 15 parts per billion of lead in each of the 10 buildings.
“We know that the water in Flint is much better than when I made the Emergency Declaration in December 2015,” Weaver stated in her letter. “And that is a good thing. However, we also know that trust has to be restored before residents are ready to rely only on filtered water.”
As usual, it seems Republicans are more concerned with their bottom line than with the health and safety of their constituents.