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FLINT, MI — A recent report by Michigan Advance says Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer has plans to bring back bottled water to Flint, Mich.
The state ended water distribution in Flint nearly nine months ago. Michigan Advance reported on Dec. 26, 2018 that Whitmer will have her administration distribute bottled water until Flint’s pipes are replaced.
In April 2018, Gov. Rick Snyder issued a press release saying the state would 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.”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver sent a letter to Snyder on April 5, 2018, urging him to continue supplying bottled water to Flint but the water distribution sites were shut down in less than a week after Snyder’s announcement that the stat would be pulling back on bottled water resources forcing Flint residents to find bottled water through other resources.
“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 in April 2018. “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.
Weaver launched Fast Start, an initiative to replace Flint’s pipes in March 2016. According to a Dec. 26, 2018 press release for the City of Flint, crews have completed excavations at 19,650 homes.
“Overall, to date, service lines to 7,822 homes have been identified as lead and/or galvanized and have been replaced, including 1,594 homes found this year,” wrote City of Flint Spokeswoman Candice Mushatt. “The efforts are a part of Mayor Karen Weaver’s plan to determine if water service lines are made of copper, and replace service lines made of lead and galvanized steel. Mayor Weaver is determined to restore safe, clean drinking water to Flint residents.”
Initially, the goal was to complete all lead line replacement by 2020, officials not say they plan to have lead lines replaced by the end of 2019.