LANSING, Michigan – The government of Michigan announced on Monday a plan to tackle Flint’s health crisis triggered by the lead contamination of its drinking waters, Reuters reported.
Governor Rick Snyder said the plan, which involves several state agencies, is aimed at solving the problem of deficiency in water infrastructure and the health of kids who have high lead levels in their blood, broaden support in schools and increase Flint’s economic development.
The water crisis has been treated as a national issue and led to calls for Snyder to resign because protestors believe the state has not handled the situation properly. A bunch of Democratic lawmakers criticized the governor last week during his testimony at a hearing about the crisis in Flint, a city northwest of Detroit.
Michigan’s plan includes professional support from state health officials for children under 6 with high lead levels in their blood and opening three more child health centers in Flint. Snyder’s office also said that a key goal is to replace drinking water faucets and fixtures in schools, daycare centers and elder care homes, among other public facilities.
Moreover, the plan announced by the government of Michigan implicates continued replacement of lead service lines in Flint’s water system; additional resources for schools such as nine more school nurses; expansion of a free breakfast program; monitor behavioral needs of children; and an employment program that consists of training for 500 residents to get a long-term job by the end of 2017.
Michigan’s officials said new needs could lead to modifications of the plan.
A wrong decision led to a severe health crisis in Flint
In 2014, a state-appointed emergency manager ordered that Flint had to switch water supplies to the Flint River from Detroit’s system as an attempt to save money. This decision led to the current health crisis, since the corrosive water from the river leached lead from the city’s water pipes. Lead is a toxic substance that has the potential to damage the nervous system. Flint switched back to Detroit’s system in October last year.
The city’s health issue has led to several lawsuits both in state and federal courts, as well as federal and state investigations. Snyder said on Monday that Michigan was committed to tackle the needs of Flint’s residents in the short and long run, according to Reuters.
“Many departments have been involved in addressing the immediate crisis in whatever way they could,” Snyder said in a statement. “At the same time, they have been working on longer-term plans.”