Drink Flint water? White House does not know if Obama will

Reuters News
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Posted: May 02, 2016 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said it does not know whether President Barack Obama will drink filtered city water when he visits Flint, Michigan on Wednesday for the first time since a drinking water crisis began there.

Flint, a city of 100,000 mostly poor African Americans, was under the control of a state manager when, to save money, it switched its water supply in 2014 from Detroit's system to the Flint River.

Doctors say the switch exposed children to dangerous amounts of lead. The corrosive water of the river caused lead, a heavy metal that can harm brain development and cause other health problems, to leach from water pipes. Flint switched back to Detroit's system in October.

"I'm not aware of any photo-ops that involve the president's consumption of water," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a daily press conference on Monday.

Earnest said the White House is encouraging people to listen to the advice they get from government scientific and health experts about what water is safe to drink, and Obama will also follow that advice.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has faced calls for him resign over the crisis, last month promised to drink filtered Flint tap water for 30 days to show it is safe.

The water is safe to drink as long as people use up-to-date filters, water experts have said. Flint's drinking water system will not recover until heavier demand by residents results in the flushing out of lead particles, they added.

In the past, Obama has taken personal action to assure people that sea water was clean. Months after the BP crude oil spill sullied the Gulf Coast in 2010, Obama went swimming with his daughter Sasha off the coast of Florida.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Steve Orlosky)