Snyder to drink filtered Flint water for month

Jacob Carah
Special to The Detroit News

Flint — Bottoms up for Gov. Rick Snyder.

The governor announced Monday for the next 30 days, he’ll drink filtered tap water drawn from the city.

“One of the things I thought would be helpful, because people asked me about drinking the water, that’s why I said I want to go out and drink filtered Flint water,” Snyder said.

The governor said he and his wife, first lady Sue Snyder, will use the water at home and work for drinking and cooking for a month, and the governor will resupply during frequent visits to the city.

Snyder was challenged by a reporter last week to try Flint’s filtered water, which many residents don’t trust themselves.

He responded: “Yeah. I mean if someone ... I’m happy to look into that.”

Snyder added Monday that his wife “is on board.”

Snyder earlier filled up on 3 gallons of water while visiting the home of Flint residents Cheryl Hill and Todd Canty that is part of the state’s sentinel site testing program, which has been monitoring the changes in lead levels at hundreds of homes in the city.

The home has a lead service line and, according to the governor’s office, has tested higher than the federal action level for lead of 15 part per billion without filtration.

Filters are rated to handle lead levels under 150 parts per billion.

Snyder said he didn’t know the home’s most recent reading but that the residence did have one in the “200 (ppb) some range.”

Asked why he chose now to drink the water in Flint, the governor said: “I didn’t really wait. Again this is where we’re encouraging people to make the transition after the science meeting.”

Earlier this month, state, federal and independent water quality experts confirmed the water in Flint “is safe to drink as long as a filter is in place,” according to the governor’s office.

Snyder added that “we went around asked people if they would like to be a part of this, and we had a house that wanted to.”

Bishop Roger Jones of Greater Holy Temple ministries said it’s “very gratifying” to have the governor visit the city. Asked whether Snyder is taking the water crisis seriously enough, Jones said: “I think so now.”

“I believe now that he’s working to bring this to a resolution,” Jones said.

Flint, an impoverished city of nearly 100,000 residents, is under a three-month-long state of emergency.

Residents have been urged to use faucet filters or bottled water until damaged pipes are effectively recoated with anti-corrosion chemicals that were not used for 18 months after Flint temporarily switched water sources to the local river in 2014 while under state financial management.

Michigan officials are collecting data on lead contamination from roughly 600 total sites in the city. The scattered sites are helping to pinpoint Flint’s trouble areas.

The latest rounds of testing results from Flint’s drinking water have shown improvement for the beleaguered city. But state officials still have urged continued caution moving ahead.

Particulate lead — small scales that are flaking off damaged underground pipes — is an ongoing concern and the system remains “unstable,” according to the the Environmental Protection Agency.

William Harris, 29, a team support leader at the Greater Holy Temple water distribution center, said Monday he has been getting reports that people are stockpiling bottled water over concerns about filtered water.

“People are afraid. People honestly believe the water availability will end and think that all of this water is going to go away soon,” he said.

Harris said he has heard reports of packs of water bottles falling through floors and foundation problems “because people are stacking pallets of water at home.”

Snyder responded to those fears Monday.

“Anyone living through this has concerns and issues,” Snyder said. “We’re encouraging people not to stockpile. If they’re taking a few extra cases, I appreciate that, but we’re showing the filters are working.”