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In the wake of a nearly four-year water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Governor Rick Synder has announced an end to the distribution of free bottled water for the city’s residents.
Snyder said the city’s water quality has been restored, after testing well below the federal action level for lead and copper for nearly two years.
Flint entered a State of Emergency in December 2015 following the decision to switch the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River.
Officials neglected to add corrosion controls to the Flint River water, causing it to leach the city’s lead pipes.
This led to the possible exposure to dangerous levels of lead in the drinking water, which can result in damage to the heart and kidneys, decreased fertility and Legionnaires' disease.
According to the office of the governor, two years’ worth of data and thousands of tests now confirm that Flint’s water is testing the same as or better than similar cities across the state.
As such, remaining water distribution centers - known as PoDs - will close once the current supply of state-funded bottled water is exhausted.
Water filters and replacement cartridges will continue to be available at Flint City Hall.
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Snyder said: “We have worked diligently to restore the water quality and the scientific data now proves the water system is stable and the need for bottled water has ended.”
He added: “For the past two years I have repeatedly been asked when I would declare the water safe in Flint and I have always said that no arbitrary decision would be made — that we would let the science take us to that conclusion. Since Flint’s water is now well within the standards set by the federal government, we will now focus even more of our efforts on continuing with the health, education and economic development assistance needed to help move Flint forward.”
Despite the water test results, the replacement of all lead service lines is not yet complete, leaving many residents fearful that the water might not be safe in every home.
Across the country, many have taken to Twitter to criticize Snyder’s decision.
It's unacceptable that the residents of #Flint can't get a clean glass of drinking water from their taps. We provide 3rd world countries with clean drinking h20 but can't help our own citizens? What is wrong with you @onetoughnerd? @MMFlint @MichiganGov— Mr.Sawicki (@Electric_EMS) April 19, 2018
One user said: “It's unacceptable that the residents of #Flint can't get a clean glass of drinking water from their taps. We provide 3rd world countries with clean drinking h20 but can't help our own citizens?”
Another said: “All of the water bottle PoDs in #Flint are already out of water. The citizens need you! Speak for us! Hear our concerns! We deserve better!”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said the governor has dismissed her similar concerns and city officials feel they have no choice but to exercise legal options to get more support for residents.
She said: “I am really glad that back in March of 2016, I took steps to preserve our right to take legal action. I said if we have to take them to court, that is what we will do and that is where we are today.”
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