FLINT, MI — Gov. Rick Snyder has finally put an end to bottled water in Flint.
In an April 6, 2018 press release, Snyder says the state will no longer support state-run water distribution sites known as PODS for Flint residents.
“I have said all along that ensuring the quality of the water in Flint and helping the people and the city move forward were a top priority for me and my team,” said Snyder in the release. “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.”
According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality Flint’s water has tested below the federal action level of 15 parts per billion for at least a 6-month compliance period.
“Flint’s water is undoubtedly one of the most monitored systems in the country, and for the last 22 months several types of extensive testing data points have consistently supported that Flint’s water system has stabilized,” said Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and former interim director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality who remains the principal on Flint water. “Even with the quality water results to date, we will continue to support Mayor Karen Weaver’s service line replacement program as it is an important component to the long-term integrity of the Flint water system.”
So far, Snyder says Michigan taxpayers have paid more than $350 million to Flint for the crisis, which happened while the city was under the state’s control.
In 2014, state officials made a decision to switch the city’s water supply from Detroit to using the Flint River. In September 2015 it was discovered that nearly 100,000 people in Flint had been exposed to lead-tainted water.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver sent a letter to Snyder on April 5, 2018, urging him to continue supplying bottled water to Flint.
“The state has the authority and the power. I just keep the residents informed as soon as I get the information,” Weaver told Flint Beat. “We have fought to keep them here. I will continue to ask for them to stay during this process. We are still in a crisis.”
Initially, PODS were placed in each of the city’s nine wards but that number dropped last year to four when state officials made more cuts to Flint’s resources.
Michigan Spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said in a March 8, 2018 community meeting on Flint’s north side that there were no promises that the state would continue to provide water resources including the PODS to Flint as water test results continued to improve. She also said the state could not promise that they would give notice to residents before making the decision.
Brown pointed to a 2017 lawsuit settlement agreement between the state, the Concerned Pastors of Social Action and Flint water activist Melissa Mays.
The settlement guarantees the replacement of 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines but does not force the state to continue to provide other resources to Flint as city officials move forward with plans to replace service lines under Weaver’s FAST Start program to replace Flint’s pipes.
So far, an estimated 6,000 pipes have been replaced with plans to complete the project by 2020.