FLINT, Mich. (CN) - Lead levels in the Flint, Mich., water system have dropped since the city switched back to the Detroit system and added chemical agents, the first wave of testing has shown.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality tested 853 samples between Sept. 29 and Jan. 15.
Results showed that 8 percent of the samples were in excess 15 parts per billion for lead, a level that triggers federal rules to treat the water for contamination.
The article quotes Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards as warning that, even though the preliminary testing appeared to show a drop in lead levels, Flint residents should avoid the drinking water until it is determined safe and future widespread testing confirms these results with more accuracy.
As the crisis gains national recognition, members of the Genesee County Volunteer Militia gathered outside Flint's City Hall on Sunday to protest the lack of accountability.
"We're here to defend this community," Matthew Krol, the militia's executive officer, said with a gun strapped to his side, as quoted by the Free Press. "This is not a racial issue ... it's a human issue."
Krol reportedly spoke to onlookers who cheered when he said state and local leaders knowingly lied to the people of Flint.
Members of the militia have joined American Red Cross volunteers in the distribution of bottled water and filters for the last week.
Gov. Rick Snyder experienced some blowback on earlier statements that he and his administration made, suggesting the Flint's elected leaders helped cause the crisis with the 2013 approval of a plan to purchase water from the Karegnondi Water Authority.
While the Flint City Council voted 7-1 to approve the plan, the vote was largely symbolic since the emergency financial manager whom Snyder appointed already made the decision.
Karegnondi CEO Jeff Wright told The Huffington Post he insisted the city council participate in the process.
"I said, I will not accept that. I do require a decision of this magnitude to be voted on by the elected representatives of the people," Wright said.
Snyder said in his State of the State address last week: "This crisis began in the spring of 2013, when the City of Flint voted 7-1 to buy water from the Karegnondi Water Authority."
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