Latest: Flint mayor asks Obama to visit her city

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2016 5:37 PM
Latest: Flint mayor asks Obama to visit her city

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The latest on developments in the lead contamination of Flint's water (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The mayor of Flint, Michigan is asking President Barack Obama to visit her city, where lead has contaminated the water supply, caused health problems and put children at risk for developmental delays.

Mayor Karen Weaver told reporters that her message to the president is simple: "President Obama, come to Flint."

Weaver spoke after an informational hearing Wednesday on Flint led by Democratic lawmakers. Democrats said the session was needed after Weaver and other officials were not invited to a GOP-led hearing last week that devolved into partisan accusations over blame for the crisis.

Flint's water became contaminated after the city, while under emergency state management, switched from the Detroit system to drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

Weaver said the meeting helped to "keep Flint in the spotlight" and pressure state and federal officials to do more to help the city.

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3 p.m.

The U.S. House has approved legislation to clarify the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to notify the public about danger from lead in their drinking water.

The bill is the first approved by Congress to respond to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Flint stopped using treated water from Detroit and switched to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply, contributing to a spike in child lead exposure.

The House bill would direct the EPA to notify residents and health departments if the amount of lead found in a public water system requires action.

The EPA did not notify the public for months after learning that state officials were not treating Flint's water.

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3 p.m.

Michigan will be able to temporarily use federal Women, Infants and Children funding to test people in the program for exposure to Flint's lead-tainted water.

U.S. Agriculture officials also announced Wednesday that at least 28 Flint-area schools are eligible for a program providing access to school meals to all students.

Michigan also can apply to participate in a program that provides assistance for healthy food during the summer to families with students receiving free or reduced-price meals throughout the school year.

Gov. Rick Snyder had sought increased nutrition funding for older low-income Flint children who may be affected by lead-tainted water, but it was denied last month.

Lead leached from old pipes into homes after the city's 2014 switch to the Flint River from Detroit's water system.

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1:30 p.m.

State environmental and health officials say they are boosting the level of data collected as well as the services offered to Flint residents affected by lead-tainted drinking water.

Officials announced Wednesday that representatives of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and licensed plumbers will visit about 400 homes citywide to teach homeowners how to accurately test water so they can submit regular samples for analysis. They say the data should help determine when and where the corrosion control treatment has been effective.

The state also is launching what it calls a "streamlined system" of assisting residences that test high for lead and copper in their water. The effort includes steps to get people the health-related services they need more rapidly, including home visits, inspections and transportation for appointments.

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12:20 p.m.

Democratic lawmakers say the White House has signaled support for an emergency bill that would spend $765 million to help solve a water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan is sponsoring the bill, which would help Flint fix and replace lead-contaminated pipes and provide a health and educational support for children poisoned by lead-contaminated water.

Flint stopped using treated water from Detroit and switched to the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

Kildee said President Barack Obama's budget director, Shaun Donovan, signaled support for his efforts at a closed-door meeting Wednesday with House Democrats. Kildee said Donovan "likes the direction" of the bill "but has some suggestions" on how it could be improved.

Kildee said officials have discussed including money for Flint in a $1.8 billion spending request Obama has made to combat the Zika virus, but said no decisions have been made.

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11:50 a.m.

A Virginia Tech expert who first raised public concerns about lead in Flint's water is dismissing a city official's email suggesting that anti-corrosive phosphates weren't added to the Flint River because of worries that the chemicals would promote bacterial growth.

Environmental engineer Marc Edwards tells The Associated Press the comment by former Flint public works director Howard Croft was a "contrived explanation after the fact that makes no sense."

Flint stopped using treated water from Detroit and switched to the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

Croft wrote in his Sept. 3 email that when the city's plant was being readied to treat river water, officials decided to gather more data before using corrosion control because the phosphate chemicals "can be a food for bacteria."

But Edwards says the Flint River is already high in phosphorus and adding more wouldn't have had any effect on bacteria.

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11 a.m.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to spend $195 million more to address Flint's water crisis and another $165 million updating infrastructure across the state, including lead water pipes.

The Republican governor detailed the plans in his annual $54.9 billion budget presentation to the GOP-led Legislature Wednesday. Snyder, who has apologized for his administration's role in the disaster, says "clean drinking water is a necessity" and that he's dedicated to ensuring the problem is thoroughly resolved.

The proposal includes $25 million for infrastructure needs specific to Flint, which is grappling with lead-contaminated water.

Snyder and legislators previously directed more than $37 million toward the crisis, including funds for bottled water, filters and services.

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6:05 a.m.

Officials are working to ensure blind residents of Flint have access to all needed information and resources related to the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

Staff with the state's Bureau of Services for Blind Persons contacted its nearly 40 clients living in Flint by home visit or phone. As part of the effort, officials offered assistance in obtaining bottled water, filters, replacement filter cartridges and water testing kits.

The bureau's Director Edward Rodgers says in a statement that officials "will continue to provide assistance to any Flint resident who is blind or visually impaired." It's part of broader outreach efforts by state and local officials.

Information about the city's water problems and efforts to address the crisis is available in braille by contacting the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons.

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3:10 a.m.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is set to propose spending $195 million more to address Flint's water crisis and another $165 million updating infrastructure, including lead water pipes, across the state.

The plans will be detailed in the Republican governor's annual $54.9 billion budget presentation to the GOP-led Legislature on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Snyder, who has apologized for his administration's role in the disaster, says the $25 million for pipe replacement in Flint is a starting point and could grow once a full analysis is done.

The governor and legislators previously directed more than $37 million toward the crisis, including funds for bottled water, filters, testing, health care and other services.

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2:55 a.m.

An email written by a former Flint official says anti-corrosive treatments weren't added to the Flint River water because of concerns about bacteria.

Officials have acknowledged the failure to control corrosion after Flint switched sources and began drawing water from the river in 2014 was a mistake that let lead leach from pipes into water that reached some homes.

In a Sept. 3 message, former public works director Howard Croft says lead treatments were discussed with state officials and an engineering firm as the city water plant was being readied to treat river water.

Croft says it was decided to wait for more data before choosing a lead-control method. He says most chemicals used for that are phosphate-based, which can encourage bacteria. He did not specify who made the decision.


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