Legislature moving quickly on emergency funds for Flint water fix

bottled waterThe Legislature is close to approving the state’s portion of the money to re-connect Flint to the Detroit water system, and eliminate lead from the city’s drinking water.

The state House approved the funding Wednesday and state Senate approval’s expected on Thursday.

Children started showing elevated lead levels after a state-appointed emergency manager – with the approval of city officials — decided to switch from the Detroit water system to using the Flint River. The water turned out to be highly corrosive and caused lead to leach into the drinking water.

State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekof (R-West Olive) says the Legislature is treating it as a public health emergency. He says lawmakers are moving so quickly he’s not sure where the money will come from.

“I really want to solve the public health issue part of it,” he says. “Where and when and how the money arrives is still up for some debate.”

The money will be used to switch Flint back to the Detroit water system, for testing children and water in schools, hiring more public health workers, and water filters.

“We’re actively moving on all accounts,” says Dan Wyant, who directs the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “So, the action plan, we’re doing school testing. We’re doing individual testing. We’re actively meeting with local public health to evaluate exposure.”

State Representative Phil Phelps (D-Flint) says it will probably be a month before water from the tap is drinkable:

“There’s still going to be that old water in the system, so the sooner we do this, the better.”

The money – about $9 million altogether — will be used to switch Flint back to the Detroit water system, for testing children and water in schools, hiring more public health workers, and water filters.

The DEQ was not able to say when Flint’s water will be safe to drink.