As of Tuesday, the people of Flint, Mich., have been without clean water for 1,468 days. Last week marked the four-year anniversary of the water switch that began the contamination that has left city residents dependent on bottled water and water filters.
Earlier this month, the state ended the bottled-water-distribution program, citing testing that showed the city’s water quality had been below the federal action level for lead for two years. Following that decision, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver sat down with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to try to get the program reinstated, but that discussion was unsuccessful.
Weaver said that Snyder was dismissive about the concerns expressed over the shutdown of bottled-water stations and that he essentially told her that Flint residents needed to “get over it.”
“I told him that this is a moral and an ethical issue and the people of Flint deserve to be comfortable and have peace of mind and continue to use bottled and filtered water while we get through this process,” Weaver said. “But … the governor didn’t want to hear it.”
The city announced that it would begin looking at legal options to get the water-distribution centers reopened, which caused the state to cancel a meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee that was planned for April 20.
In an April 17 email announcing that the meeting was canceled, Ari Adler—a spokesman for Snyder—said: “The state’s legal counsel has advised against proceeding with the FWICC meeting until the city’s intentions have been established. At that time, we will seek to provide clarification around meeting protocols and whether legal counsel would need to be present for FWICC to continue its work.”
Frustrated by the meeting being canceled, Weaver reached out to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and asked that officials there intervene.
Weaver wrote Chris Korleski, who is director of the EPA’s Region 5 Water Division.
Weaver said in a press release that she asked Korleski and the EPA to “intervene due to state officials’ actions, in hopes of preventing other meeting cancellations and any similar actions in the future.” She called the state’s cancellation of the meeting “unconscionable” and said it “could be detrimental” to further progress.
Weaver has said that she believes bottled-water distribution should be continued until the lead and galvanized pipes in the city have been replaced—a project that could take two more years to complete.
“And we can’t move on when people’s in-home plumbing and water heaters have been damaged through no fault of their own, and nothing has been done to help them fix it,” Weaver said.
In the meantime, it has been 1,468 days since the people in the city of Flint had clean water in their pipes.
With all of this back-and-forth fighting between the city and the state, the residents still don’t have clean water.