Officials Descend on Flint|to Tout Filters & Flushing

           FLINT, Mich. (CN) — As long as lead pipes remain, Flint residents looking for clean water must use filters and flush their taps regularly, Michigan’s governor said Thursday at a press conference in the industrial city, joined by the mayor of Flint and two federal officials.
     Mayor Karen Weaver conceded that “the only long-term solution is to remove every lead and galvanized steel pipe leading to Flint homes,” but said “flushing the pipes is an important intermediate step.”
     The announcement comes as state, federal and local officials continue to pick up the pieces of Flint’s brief dalliance with relying on the corroded Flint River for its drinking supply.
           An emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron in April 2014 as a cost-cutting measure, and the state’s failure to apply corrosion-control measures caused lead from Flint’s aging pipes to leach into the water.
     Thousands were poisoned before Snyder declared a state of emergency, but lead still remains in the system even after Flint switched back to Detroit’s water system.
     Weaver urged the people of Flint to run their bathtub and kitchen sink water for five minutes after turning off the filter to reduce lead levels.
     Snyder said President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Flint confirmed that there is a solution.
     “Filters work,” the governor said.
           A radio spot and a television commercial will begin to air on Friday that urges Flint residents to run their faucets for five minutes a day, every day, for two weeks. Snyder said the state would cover the cost of the extra water usage with credits on residential bills though the month of May.
     “Essentially May will be a free water month,” Snyder ssaid.
     Katherine Falk with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services joined the governor in discussing an expansion of Medicaid coverage to treat children up to age 21 as well as pregnant women who used Flint water from April 2014.
     The treatment includes nutritional guidance as well as mental health services. More than 15,000 residents are eligible for the coverage, and another 30,000 are approved for more comprehensive coverage.
           Mark Durno, an on-site coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, spoke briefly about the second round of EPA testing, saying levels were normal.
     Durno said they tested for “hundreds” of chemicals in the water.
     Snyder brushed past reporter questions about a continuing state investigation into the water crisis, and said he hadn’t yet seen a 40-page report that was recently completed.
     Reporters also failed to get additional comment from Mayor Weaver about a new lawsuit accusing her of funneling charitable donations meant for Flint to her own political action committee.
     Weaver said she could not fully comment on the lawsuit but did say the allegations were false.

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