April 19, 2016 (Flint, Mich) At her weekly press briefing at Flint City Hall today, Mayor Karen Weaver chose to address two topics related to the City’s ongoing water crisis that she has been asked about a lot lately.
Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder announced this week that he plans to drink filtered tap water from Flint for the next 30 days to help ease residents’ concerns that the water is safe. Mayor Weaver said, she’s not impressed.
“He’s drinking filtered water that’s been treated and coming from Detroit, when we have children who were drinking unfiltered water from the Flint River that wasn’t properly treated,” she said. “We have residents who are now dealing with rashes and skin disorders from the water. Flint residents have not had safe drinking water for two years, and the governor’s actions are unlikely to convince anyone to trust the quality of water anytime soon.”
Mayor Weaver stated while the governor says he takes responsibility for what’s happened in Flint, he still has not given the City the resources needed to fix the problem.
“We need new pipes. That is what’s going to fix the problem. That is what’s going to keep residents here, keep businesses here. That’s what we need,” said Mayor Weaver. “In one day last month, we replaced pipes at five homes. Just think if we had more money, we could do entire streets at a time.”
Mayor Weaver launched the Fast Start initiative in February with a pledge to restore Flint residents’ faith in the city’s water supply by having all lead-tainted service lines in the city removed and replaced. Initial estimates show 15,000 lines will need to be replaced. Officials put the preliminary cost for the plan at $55 million. A state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water source in April of 2014 to the Flint River without needed corrosion control chemicals being added, allowing lead to leech into the water.
“Two years later we still can’t drink the water”, said Mayor Weaver. “We haven’t received the funding to fix our infrastructure. This problem can be fixed. But, we need the funding to do it and the state has the money to help us.”
Flint is awaiting action by the Michigan Legislature on appropriation of $127 million for water infrastructure, health resources, children and family services, and economic renewal through supplemental budget bills that are still being debated. Utah Senator, Mike Lee has held up a $220 million federal package to provide aid for Flint, citing Michigan’s more than $380 million rainy day fund and more than $500 million budget surplus.
Mayor Weaver hopes the state will provide the additional funds needed to complete the project which is necessary to restore residents’ trust. But, she also hopes Senator Lee will have a change of heart when it comes to helping Flint. She urged residents to call his office and share their stories of how they’ve been struggling to live through this man-made water disaster at no fault of their own, in hopes that he will reconsider his position.
Mayor Weaver stated she will continue to try to work with the governor to fix this problem and to move the City of Flint forward. However, she says she can’t just be quiet while children and families in Flint continue to suffer.
“I’ve also got to be a voice for the people of Flint and work to get new pipes,” she said.