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Flint mayoral candidate calls for federal probe of city's water system

Sep 8, 2015

A candidate for Flint mayor wants the federal government to investigate the city’s problem plagued water system and how city officials have responded to those problems.

Karen Weaver is a candidate for Flint mayor. She wants the federal government to investigate the city's problem-plagued water system
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Residents have complained about the city’s water since a switch last year from Detroit water to the Flint River as the source.

The latest concern has focused on lead levels. 

Researchers from Virginia Tech University have been testing samples collected from 300 homes in Flint.  Many of the samples show “serious” lead levels in water collected in people’s homes and in city water mains.

Candidate Karen Weaver is among 300 Flint residents having their water tested for lead by researchers at Virginia Tech. Weaver says the researchers called her over the weekend to warn her.

“I was told not to drink it….not to cook with it….not to bathe in it….that I shouldn’t brush my teeth with it,” says Weaver.

At a news conference, Weaver said she has sent letters to U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, as well as Flint Congressman Dan Kildee, asking for a federal investigation of Flint’s water system.  She’s also sent letters to Gov. Snyder and members of Michigan’s legislature. 

Flint's incumbent mayor Dayne Walling says the city has been working with the EPA for months to address issues with the city's water system
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Incumbent Mayor Dayne Walling says the city is already working closely with federal agencies.

“We want the state and federal expertise involved,” says Walling, “It is involved and we’re following their recommendations.”

Walling says he has not spoken with the Virginia Tech professor overseeing the testing of Flint’s tap water, but that two members of his administration have. He says his administration is trying to get more information from the Virginia Tech team about their test results.

Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards is scheduled to speak at a town hall meeting in Flint next week. 

Critics say many of the problems would be addressed if the city just went back to getting its tap water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.  

Walling and other city officials say that is not a financially viable option. They insist switching over to the new KWA pipeline to Lake Huron next year will resolve many of the issues.  

But critics say 2016 is too long to wait.