The Environmental Protection Agency is being pulled into a conflict between the city of Flint and Governor Snyder related to the end of bottled water distribution.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has sent a letter to EPA Director Chris Korleski, informing him of a decision by state officials to cancel a multi-agency meeting on the city’s water crisis.
“I asked that Mr. Korleski and the U.S. EPA intervene due to state officials’ actions, in hopes of preventing other meeting cancellations and any similar actions in the future,” Weaver is quoted as saying in a press release.
Weaver calls canceling the meeting “unconscionable,” adding it “could be detrimental” to further progress.
The governor’s office decided to cancel the planned April 20th meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee (FWICC) after Weaver said the city was exploring “legal options” after the state ended bottled water distribution.
“The State’s Legal Counsel has advised against proceeding with the FWICC meeting until the City’s intentions have been established,” Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said in an April 17th email announcing the meeting was being canceled. “At that time, we will seek to provide clarification around meeting protocols and whether legal counsel would need to be present for FWICC to continue its work.”
The Snyder administration ended the distribution program earlier this month, citing test results showing Flint’s drinking water is now well within federal and state quality standards. The state started handing out free cases of bottled water to Flint residents two years ago after tests showed extremely high levels of lead in the city’s tap water.
City officials and residents want the free water distribution to continue, at least until a program replacing aging lead pipes is finished. More than 6,200 lead and galvanized service lines have been replaced over the past two years. City officials are optimistic another 12,000 suspect pipes connecting Flint homes and businesses to city water mains can be replaced in the next two years.
“And we can’t move on when people’s in-home plumbing and water heaters have been damaged through no fault of their own, and nothing has been done to help them fix it,” says Weaver.