Mayor declares state of emergency over water crisis in Flint

Dec. 16, 2015

Children’s elevated blood lead levels could have been caused by corrosive river water that leached out of the city’s aging underground pipes.

FLINT, Mich. — Dec. 15, 2015 — Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in Flint, Mich., due to ongoing high levels of lead in the city’s water system, according to a press release.

The problem was caused when Flint started sourcing its water from the Flint River in April last year as part of a cost-cutting move while under state emergency financial management. Officials had estimated that this would save the city about $5 million in less than two years, NBC News reported.

However, residents complained about the taste, smell and appearance of the water and children were later found to have elevated lead levels in their blood, noted the release. It’s thought that corrosive river water caused lead to leach out of the city’s aging underground pipes.

Flint returned to Detroit’s water system in October, but lead levels are still well above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion in many homes, stated the release. Officials have advised residents to continue using water filters while long-term solutions are being developed.

Declaring a state of emergency activates the city’s emergency support plan and raises awareness of the fact that the water is still not safe to drink, officials said in the release.

Flint is already in a public health emergency, declared by Genesee County earlier this year.

Last month residents of Flint, together with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, served a Notice of Intent to Sue city and state officials over the high lead levels in the city’s drinking water.

You can find the entire release here.