While in Flint, Mich., on Wednesday, President Barack Obama vouched for the safety of using certified filter water, encouraging city residents to start using filtered water instead of bottled water.
"If you're using a filter … then Flint water at this point is drinkable," Obama said after drinking from a glass of what he said contained the filtered water. The president, however, acknowledged an exception for pregnant women and children under age 6, encouraging those groups to continue to use bottled water "out of an abundance of caution."
Obama made his remarks, and took his sip of water, while at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, following briefings with federal officials and with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder. The president began his remarks by thanking federal officials, as well as Snyder and Weaver, for their response during the crisis. Meanwhile, he encouraged parents to ensure that children are checked for lead exposure, emphasizing that Medicaid expansion in the city will help provide additional medical resources.
"I want everybody in the city of Flint to know that you should have your child checked," the president said.
Obama also acknowledged that the use of filters does not negate the fact that numerous pipes in the city need to be either repaired or replaced, but he also added that it will be a long process.
"It might take a year. It might take two years. It might take more," he said.
In the meantime, Obama encouraged citizens to help flush the system by turning on their water for five minutes each day as part of an initiative the city has dubbed "Flush for Flint."
"It's not the most elegant name," Obama quipped. "We need everybody to turn on their tap in the kitchen, the tub, for five minutes each day.
"We have to take what has been a crisis and turn this into an opportunity to rebuild Flint even better than before," he added. "I'm confident that we can do that if we are working together."