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Flint's water woes reach city hall

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Critics say they have new reasons to demand the city of Flint go back to Detroit water.

“It’s time for us to stand up … speak up and tell this mayor to get out of town,”Pastor Allen Overton told a small crowd gathered outside Flint city hall on Monday. Overton and others are angry with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and other city leaders for the city’s problem-plagued water system. 

The water system’s problems grew worse after the city switched to the Flint River a year and a half ago. Since the switch, residents have complained about the taste and smell of their water. There have been other problems too, including E. coli and higher than acceptable levels of a disinfectant by-product. 

There are now concerns about lead.  

Melissa Mays, with Water You Fighting For, says the group sent samples of water from 300 Flint homes to a lab at Virginia Tech University. She says partial results show a citywide problem with lead.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Pastor Allen Overton (right) hands more than 26,000 petition signatures to Flint Mayor Dayne Walling.

“You can’t just say ‘Oh, it’s in their homes. They need to replace their pipes.’  Wrong,” says Mays. “We have tests that are coming back high in the mains, not in the homes. So that’s saying it’s a citywide problem. And guess what's swirling around in those pipes? This is not safe.”

Mays expects the rest of the results should be known by the middle of next month. 

Meanwhile, critics of the city’s water system presented Mayor Dayne Walling with more than 26,000 petition signatures calling on the city to return to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

“It’s time this administration do the right thing by the citizens of the city of Flint and go back to fresh clean water,” says Overton.

Mayor Walling accepted the petition signatures. 

“I agree that water is a basic human right,” Walling says. “The city has a responsibility to make sure the water is efficient, secure as well as affordable.”

But Walling remains opposed to returning to DWSD. He says the quality of water being produced by the city’s water plant has improved. though he admits there remain a large number of issues with the distribution system.  

Walling also promised to look into the new tests results showing "serious" lead levels in Flint’s tap water.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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