Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder called Thursday for Flint to switch back to Detroit's water system to address a public health emergency over the city's water supply.
Flint stopped using water from the Detroit system last year as a cost-cutting measure, opting instead for a supply direct from the Flint River. But since the swap, residents have complained of the water's funky smell, taste and appearance, and doctors discovered that the corrosive river water was drawing lead from aging pipes in some homes.
The governor announced Thursday that he would ask state lawmakers for $6 million, half of the $12 million need to reconnect Flint to Detroit's system through next summer. Then the city would transition to a new regional water authority drawing water from Lake Huron.
Snyder said Flint would provide $2 million and local charity the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has committed $4 million.
"It will be better for the citizens of Flint, in terms of public safety, which is our paramount concern," he said at a news conference at the foundation's office in Flint.
It is the "fastest way to protect public health and stabilize Flint's water system," Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said. But the mayor warned that the transition would not be immediate. “Reconnecting to Detroit is a major step towards safe water but I need to point out that the rehab process will take more time and money,” said Walling.
The announcement came a day after local public health experts and scientists recommended that Flint reconnect to Detroit's water system while it awaits a new pipeline to Lake Huron.
The Snyder administration released results from a lead-screening program in schools and homes. Of 37 samples at 13 buildings, four samples spread over three buildings exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. Flint is under a public health emergency due to lead in the water supply.
State government and nonprofit groups have been distributing filters and bottled water to Flint homes and schools.
Snyder on Thursday also committed $3.5 million more for filters, free lead testing and hiring additional staff to conduct health exposure monitoring for lead in drinking water.
Al Jazeera with Associated Press