Gov. Rick Snyder(Photo: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press)
In 75-point plan released today, Michigan governor says he also wants state as a whole to do better than federal government.
LANSING — Both the City of Flint and the State of Michigan as a whole will move to a more stringent standard for lead in drinking water than what is currently set out under federal rules, Gov. Rick Snyder said in a document released Monday.
Snyder released a 75-point plan to address issues resulting from the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water, covering a range of issues from children’s health to economic development to reviving the city’s struggling economy.
“We are committed to addressing immediate concerns and finding long-term solutions to improve the quality of life for the people of Flint,” Snyder said in a news release.
“Many departments have been involved in addressing the immediate crisis in whatever way they could. At the same time, they have been working on longer-term plans that address Flint’s future prosperity. These action plans lay out our next steps as we continue to work together as one Michigan to solve the challenges residents may face.”
The document sets out short, medium and long-term goals in the areas of health and human services; water supply and infrastructure; education; and jobs and economic development.
The plan was released Monday amid continued criticism of Snyder for responding too slowly to the public health crisis, following his testimony last week before a congressional committee.
Under long-term plans, Snyder said Flint and Michigan will move to a higher standard related to lead levels in drinking water.
Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a drinking water system safe with respect to lead if 90% of tap samples taken at high risk sites are within the federal “action level” of 15 parts per billion on lead.
Many critics say that standard is a poor one because lead at levels above 5 parts per billion are potentially dangerous, especially for young children, and it allows 10% of samples in a system to exceed 15 parts per billion.
Snyder’s plan doesn’t explicitly say when Flint’s water will again be safe to drink. But under short-term goals, it lists a data-sharing agreement between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the EPA, and Virginia Tech water researcher Marc Edwards. and the establishment of protocols for a “drinkability declaration.”
The plan also doesn’t set out a target date for the removal of all lead pipes in Flint, but says a medium-term goal will be working with the city to plan and prioritize lead pipe removal.
Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014, when the city, while under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, switched its drinking water source from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit water system to Flint River water treated at the Flint water treatment plant.
The DEQ failed to require the addition of needed corrosion-control chemicals as part of the treatment process, and the corrosive Flint River water ate into pipes, joints and fixtures, causing lead to leach into the water flowing into Flint homes and businesses. The city returned to the Detroit water system in October, but a potential hazard remains because of damage to the water distribution system.
Short-term goals include the addition of three Child and Adolescent Health Centers, nutrition assistance, and professional support and case management for children under six with high lead blood levels. Other short-term goals include replacement of plumbing and fixtures such as water fountains in public facilities such as schools and day care centers, expansion of early childhood education, appointing a Flint leader to the board of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and replacing 30 lead service lines as a pilot project.
Medium-term goals include expanding a program to provide healthy breakfasts and lunches to Flint schoolchildren during the summer holidays.
Long-term goals include providing children up to age 4 with more quality day care and early learning opportunities and launching three new affordable housing projects, with Flint developers supported by the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority, by 2018.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.