FLINT, Mich. — It has been nearly two months since state officials transferred to the City of Flint the responsibility of overseeing the operation of distributing bottled water to Flint residents still dealing with the effects of the water crisis. While water tests continue to show the quality of water in Flint is now meeting federal guidelines, as it relates to lead, some residents are still hesitant to rely just on filtered water. Thanks to help from local churches and organizations including the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and United Way of Genesee County, four water distribution sites remain in operation and delivery of water to residents with special needs continues. GST Michigan Works! also continues to partner in the effort by providing employees to the sites, through a grant from the Department of Labor.
“The people of Flint have been through a lot due to the water crisis,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. “Residents have made it clear, they don’t trust the water yet, and we as leaders must hear them and be sensitive to their concerns. We are working together to ensure that free bottled water and filters are made available to residents for as long as possible. The current scale of the operation is not the same as it was when it was being run by the state. While we aren’t working with the same amount of resources, we are making the most of what we have and doing everything we can for the health and well-being of residents.”
According to representatives with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, on average 65,184 cases of water is distributed each week at the water resource sites, also known as PODs. That is including the water delivered to residents with special needs, and the water given out at the Help Centers in Flint. The State of Michigan continues to cover the cost of the bottled water being distributed. Water filters and replacement cartridges continue to be made available to Flint residents through the Community Outreach Education (CORE) program.
“The City of Flint has never been tasked with something like this before, so there have been some learning curves,” said Chief Recovery Officer, Jameca-Patrick Singleton. “City officials recently met with representatives from the Michigan Department of Education and we invited leaders from all schools in Flint to come and discuss ways to ensure they have access to water testing information and protocols for their specific facility.”
Questions have been raised about whether charter schools in Flint are receiving bottled water. Officials say if administrators at charter schools request water, it will be provided.
“As of now water is being delivered to all Flint Community Schools and four charter schools,” stated Patrick-Singleton. “State officials tell me, if representatives from other charter schools would like to receive water, they just have to make arrangements to pick up supplies from the Food Bank.”
“We are also working with the Flint Technical Advisory Board which is comprised of professionals from the medical community, scientists and others,” added Dr. Pamela Pugh, Chief Public Health Advisor for Flint. “Our goal is to ensure that, before bottled water is phased out of schools, long-term supports are in place for schools to continue conducting water quality testing, monitoring and maintenance in a way that does not place an additional burden on the schools.”
City officials want the community to know every effort is being made to work with state officials to ensure that water is made available to every school in Flint, and leaders are working to make sure the health and safety of children, and all City residents, remains a priority.