FLINT TWP. — Is Flint Township water safe to use?
Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said that she and other township officials have received numerous inquiries about water quality since county officials issued a Public Health Emergency Declaration for city of Flint water customers due to dangerously high lead levels.
The good news is that the township water system is supplied by treated water from Detroit, not the Flint River. which is the source of Flint city water. A notice to that effect has been posted on the township website in red letters.
But there is bad news for 47 Flint Township homes that are franchised Flint city water customers. Those residents will see the letters FCW on their water bills, said Treasurer Marsha Binelli, township treasurer and director of township sewer and water. Most are residents but some are businesses.
Miller added that township officials have been actively working with county officials to make emergency water treatment tools available to affected Flint Township residents.
Arrangements have been made for Flint Township Franchise Customers receiving Flint City water to receive free certified home water filters through resources set up for city of Flint residents, according to a notice Binelli posted on the township website.
Applicants must bring valid identification and a copy of their water bill and or their Franchise Agreement for proof of Flint City Water service to one of the four filter distribution sites established by the United Way and other community partners – 125 E. Union Street, 4809 Clio Road, 2727 Lippincott and 601 North Saginaw Street in Flint. Staff will be onsite at all four locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, to distribute filters and assist residents who have questions about proper installation, according to a United Way press release.
Widespread community efforts are also underway to supply bottled water city of Flint water users in the wake of health warnings about high-level lead content in water were issued in late September. Complaints from residents and quality advisories date back to April 2014 when City of Flint officials decided to switch from the expensive Detroit water supply back to the Flint River in anticipation of the eventual connection to the Karegnondi water pipeline being built from Port Huron and targeted for completion by June 2016.
After more than a year of residents trying to get government officials to address water quality problems, the crisis peaked on September 25 when medical professionals in Genesee County publicly reported alarming results of a recent analysis of blood lead levels indicating lead overexposure in Flint children, according to a press release from Hurley Medical Center.
“Overexposure to lead in children can have permanent long-term consequences, including lowered IQ, developmental delays and behavioral problems,” said Mona Hanna-Attisha MD, MPH, FAAP, director of Hurley Medical Center’s Pediatric Residency Program and assistant professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University.
Led by Dr. Hanna-Attisha, researchers analyzed the blood lead levels of more than 1,500 Flint children age 5 years old and younger from two time periods — between January and September 2013 when the city used Detroit water, and from January through September 2015 when the city used Flint River water.
They discovered a nearly 2 percent increase in elevated blood lead levels (EBLs) in children across Flint, from 2.1 to 4 percent. Even more disturbing, they also found that children in high-risk areas of the city, in zip codes 48503 and 48504, were found to have a nearly 4 percent increase in EBLs, from 2.5 to 6.3 percent.
“Flint families with young children should avoid using unfiltered tap water,” said Lawrence Reynolds, MD, FAAP, CEO and President of Mott Children’s Health Center. He strongly encouraged the city to declare a public health advisory.
On October 1, the Genesee County Board of Commissioners issued the Public Emergency Declaration for people using the Flint River water supply. Governor Rick Snyder also publicly acknowledged the water crisis and initiated steps for distribution of free filters.
The United Way and City of Flint joined forces to raise funds from private and public sources to purchase water filters The United Way kicked off the effort by committing $25,000 from its general fund. That was followed by a $50,000 donation by the General Motors Foundation and $10,000 from the Making Our Children Smile Foundation. An additional $20,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds were secured Wednesday by the city of Flint. The Community Foundation of Greater Flint is also working to secure filters for the initiative.
According to a statement from the Genesee County Health Department, the United Way is working with Flint Community Schools to secure water filter systems that will be installed in every school classroom in the city of Flint. ZeroWater plans to donate 5,000 portable tumblers to the schools. In addition, the United Way, using funds from the General Motors Foundation, will purchase 2,500 23-cup dispensers. The units were expected to arrive this week and will be distributed to all schools in the city of Flint.
Current funding to support the water filter distribution effort has come from the following organizations:
$225,000 private funding and grant request to United Way Genesee County
$1,000,000 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Other funding is expected to come from other local organizations.