Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, under pressure to resign over the state’s poor handling of a lead water crisis in Flint, promised on Monday that he will drink filtered tap water from the city for at least the next 30 days to show that it is safe.
Snyder visited Flint residents on Monday, including one homeowner whose drinking water has tested higher than federal safety standards for the toxic substance and who has expressed concern about drinking even filtered water.
The governor goes to Flint about once a week from the state capital Lansing about 50 miles away and water would be delivered to him by other state officials after their visits the rest of the time, said Ari Adler, Snyder’s spokesman.
“I completely understand why some Flint residents are hesitant to drink the water and I am hopeful I can alleviate some of the skepticism and mistrust by putting words to action,” Snyder said in a statement.
“Flint residents made it clear that they would like to see me personally drink the water, so today I am fulfilling that request,” he said. He said he would drink Flint water at work and at home.
Michigan officials have been criticized for the lead water crisis, which became a national scandal and also drew attention to other cities with potentially toxic water.
Under the direction of a state-appointed emergency manager, Flint switched water supplies to the Flint River from Detroit’s system in 2014 to save money.
The corrosive river water leached lead, a toxic substance that can damage the nervous system, from the city’s water pipes. Flint switched back to the Detroit system last October.
Water experts have said Flint’s water is safe to drink as long as residents are using up-to-date filters and more recently have said the system would not recover until heavy water usage by residents results in the flushing out of lead particles from the system.
Several Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives last month called on Snyder, a Republican, to resign. Snyder has said he will not step down.
Michigan this month extended the state of emergency in Flint by four months, enabling the city to tap more state funds and coordinate a response to the crisis with other authorities. State officials and water experts also have proposed the state adopt what would be the strictest lead testing standards in the United States.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by Grant McCool)