Aug 15, 2016

Federal State of Emergency in Flint, Mich., Expires

Free bottled water available to residents at cost of state

drinking water, flint, lead, state of emergency, bottled water, free, state

The federal state of emergency in Flint, Mich., expired Aug. 14, 2016, but city officials are assuring residents that free bottled water is still available.

Residents have been avoiding Flint's tap water since high lead levels were found in the public water supply in 2015.

"Aug. 14 is just a date on the calendar, and as Governor [Rick] Snyder has said, we will make decisions based on science, not arbitrary dates," said Capt. Chris Kelenske, deputy state director of emergency management and homeland security and commander of the Michigan State Police emergency management and homeland security.

President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration in January 2016 and paid 75% of the costs of bottled water, filters and cartridges. Now, the state will pick up the entire bill, which is approximately $3.5 million per month. Since Jan. 9, 2016, more than 2.2 million cases of bottled water, 130,200 water filters, 287,000 replacement cartridges and 52,600 at-home, water-testing kits have been distributed to Flint water system customers.

"Until the water meets quality standards, we will provide water supplies to Flint water system customers at the water resource sites," Kelenske said.

State officials said Flint residents will not notice any loss of water emergency services as the state takes on the additional costs. All other federal and state programs and services dealing with the problem will continue. 

Since previous water quality tests in Flint, more than 170 residences showed lead levels declining by as much as 60%.

"The Flint system is on its way to recovery," said Marc Edwards, who is leading a team of engineering professors from Virginia Tech. "No one is saying the water is safe to drink yet."