Michigan governor on Flint water crisis: ‘It’s a disaster’
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder acknowledged Monday the water crisis in Flint is a disaster, but said he would not be stepping down.
In an interview with the National Journal, the Republican governor said critics calling the crisis his “Katrina,” referring to then-President George W. Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, is not unfair.
“It’s a disaster,” he reportedly said.
“It’s clearly a negative on what we’ve accomplished since I’ve been governor. And I don’t even describe it as an opportunity. I just want to make sure we’re doing whatever we can to deal with the damage and address the people of Flint in a constructive way.”
In April 2014, the state decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. The river had a reputation for nastiness, and after the April 2014 switch, residents complained their water looked, smelled and tasted funny.
Virginia Tech researchers found the water was highly corrosive. A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality didn’t treat the water for corrosion, in accordance with federal law, and because so many service lines to Flint are made of lead, the noxious element leached into the water of the city’s homes.
The city switched back to the Lake Huron water supply in October, but the damage was already done to the lead pipes. The state is now handing out filters and bottled water with the hlep of the National Guard.
“The checks and balances that theoretically could have been there didn’t work. This is a mess. I mean, I feel terrible about all this happening. And that’s why I’m working hard to do everything I can to repair the damage and then actually work to strengthen Flint and the citizens,” Snyder told the National Journal.
On Monday, around 100 protesters rallied outside of the governor’s home in downtown Ann Arbor, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ.
They are upset that he didn’t switch the water supply back earlier, or do more to stem the crisis. Snyder declared a state of emergency this month.
“It feels personal and it makes us all, people who are in Flint and people who are tied to Flint, very, very angry,” Flint native Jeff Brown told WXYZ.
Snyder has resisted calls for him to resign.
“As soon as it came to my attention we started to take serious action. What I’d say is I feel terrible about it, though, and it’s clear that changes needed to be made in my administration and I think long-term, there are things that need to be improved,” he reportedly said.
“I want to solve this problem,” said Snyder. “I don’t want to walk away from it.”