Flint will return to Detroit water system due to lead concerns

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 08, 2015 12:45 PM

By Serena Maria Daniels

DETROIT (Reuters) - Flint will resume getting water from Detroit, officials said on Thursday, a week after the Michigan city confirmed that children were showing elevated levels of lead since it began using water from a nearby river.

"Reconnecting to Detroit is a major step toward safe water," Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said at a news conference. The reconnection is expected in the next couple of weeks.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder told reporters he would ask the state legislature to provide half of the $12 million needed to connect Flint's water supply with the Great Lakes Water Authority through next summer. Snyder expects the funding measure to pass.

Flint will contribute $2 million, while the Flint-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, a philanthropic organization, will give $4 million, officials said.

The financially troubled industrial city of about 100,000 residents started using the Flint River for water in 2014 after a state-appointed emergency manager ruled out a deal to keep buying it from Detroit, which is 66 miles (106 km) to the southeast.

Last week, Flint said some children had elevated levels of lead in their blood. Tests released on Thursday showed some Flint water samples had higher-than-acceptable lead levels.

Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and at high levels can lead to seizures and death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The governor's office said Detroit's Lake Huron water should be healthier because the Great Lakes are prone to fewer problems from runoff that can be present in shallower rivers.

Detroit has additional corrosion control, using phosphates to help coat the insides of pipes and limit lead from leaching into the water, the governor's office said.

Earlier this week, Michigan began distributing free water filters to Flint residents after private donors had given out about 5,500.

Snyder said state and local authorities would continue with a plan announced last Friday for increased water testing, additional precautions for families with lead plumbing and finding long-term solutions for Flint.

Also on Thursday, the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services committed an additional $3.5 million for water filters and free lead testing.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels in Detroit and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)