Weaver to Snyder: Don’t just drink water, live in Flint

Jacob Carah
Special to The Detroit News

Flint — Mayor Karen Weaver on Tuesday ripped Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to drink filtered tap water from the city for the next 30 days.

“I hope it’s filtered,” Weaver said. “The other thing I need to say about that is lucky for him that he can drink filtered water.”

Challenging the governor, Weaver said if Snyder really wants to know what it’s like to deal with the situation in the city, “he needs to come and stay here for 30 days and live with us and see what it’s like to use bottled or filtered water when you want to cook and when you want to brush your teeth.”

The governor announced Monday that, along with his wife, he’ll drink filtered tap water drawn from the city for a month. Snyder said he will use the water at home and work for drinking and cooking, and the governor will resupply during frequent visits to the city.

Snyder on Monday filled up on 3 gallons of water while visiting a home in Flint that is part of the state’s sentinel site testing program, which tested for elevated lead levels.

“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 Monday.

Weaver said Tuesday the governor’s recent action isn’t bringing a resolution to fix the city’s lead-tainted water supply.

“We’ve been dealing with this for two years, and we had to drink this water when it wasn’t filtered,” she said.

Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said the governor is in Flint every week while Lt. Gov. Brian Calley visits the city two to three days a week.

“We have key high-level staff in Flint and talking with the mayor’s office, members of her administration and city council nearly every day,” Adler said.

“Gov. Snyder was in Flint yesterday and took the opportunity to help spread the message that the filters work and that people need to start using filtered water for their primary source.

“He also decided to take a few gallons with him to start drinking filtered Flint water for at least 30 days while at home and in the office. The supply will be refilled whenever he is in Flint or, if his schedule doesn’t allow time for him to do so personally, staff will be refilling the jugs and getting them to the governor.”

Weaver also pointed Tuesday to additional concerns of bathing and showering with the water, and a persistent lack of trust by residents using Flint’s water system.

“Drinking filtered water does not impress us at all,” Weaver said. “We need the funds because our goal has not changed, which is new pipes for the people of the city of Flint.”

Adler noted the state has given the city $2.5 million to replace residential lead service lines. The funding, he said, is enough to replace lines at approximately 530 homes but the city has only done 33.

“It will be increasingly difficult to convince the state Legislature that the city needs more money if they don’t spend the money the state has already provided — such as $2 million for lead line replacement and $30 million for water bill relief, which the city also has not yet spent,” Adler said.

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.

Weaver reminded residents that many should continue to use bottled water and not filtered water, including seniors, children younger than 6 years old and those with a compromised immune system.

“I’m not here to tell you to drink the water because it’s not ready for us to drink,” she said.

Weaver also turned her attention on Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, saying he “has been holding up some money for us, and what I’d like people to do is to start calling Senator Lee.”

“Start pressing upon him the importance of us having clean water,” she said. “Let him know we are not a third-world country.”

She asked the people of Utah, “if it (the Water Crisis) happened there, would he have your back?” The mayor asking the city for help in, ‘keeping the pressure on and hold people accountable.’