NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Moore thinks Flint's water problem would be solved by now if the troubled city wasn't in Michigan.
The Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker expressed his frustration at the New York premiere for "Flint," a Lifetime movie about the water crisis. It stars Queen Latifah, Betsy Brandt and Marin Ireland as Flint residents who fought for justice after finding out their water supply was laden with lead. Moore isn't involved in the film but came out to support it because it's about his hometown.
Before the screening, Moore expressed disappointment with the ongoing water problem and spoke of the historical significance of his hometown.
"This country wouldn't have a middle class if it wasn't for Flint, Michigan. It's where the strikes began that formed the UAW (United Auto Workers), which formed the middle class. Our grandfathers and great-grandparents, you know, didn't have anything. And because of Flint, it allowed working people to earn a decent wage and have a life," Moore said.
He added: "The fact that this city would end up now at the beginning of the 21st Century being poisoned by the very system it helped to create, and a certain political party allowed this to happen, is just criminal."
The problems in Flint began in 2014 when the water source changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Because of insufficient treatment of the water coming from the river, residents were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead.
Water quality has greatly improved, according to experts, although residents still are urged to filter their water or use bottled water if they're uneasy.
Separately, water lines serving 18,000 homes are being replaced, under a lawsuit settlement that was negotiated by Flint, the state of Michigan and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The deadline to finish the job is January 2020. The cost could be as high as $97 million.
Moore questions why it's not been done already.
"What's the holdup? What is the holdup? I just can't help but think if this was 100,000 people in Westchester County (New York) or outside of (Washington) D.C. in Virginia somewhere that this would (not) still be going on," Moore said.
"Flint" premieres on Lifetime on Saturday.