Lead levels in water prompt state of emergency in Flint, Michigan

Lead Levels In Flint, Michigan, Water Have Residents Avoiding Tap
Lead Levels In Flint, Michigan, Water Have Residents Avoiding Tap

(Reuters) - The mayor of Flint has declared a state of emergency, acknowledging that switches in the Michigan's city's water sourcing have caused high lead levels in drinking water.

The elevated lead levels were caused by the city switching to the Flint River from Detroit's water system as a water source, the city said in a statement. In October, the city switched back to the Detroit system, but lead levels are still "well above" the acceptable federal level in many homes, the city said.

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The state of emergency, declared by Mayor Karen Weaver at a council meeting on Monday evening, activates the city's emergency support plan, heightens communication and raises awareness within the city, city spokesman Sean Kammer said.

The city would be eligible for financial aid from the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency if a state of emergency is declared by the governor or the president, Kammer said.

Last month, Flint residents filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and state of endangering their health by exposing them to dangerous lead levels in their tap water, after switching their supply in April 2014 to save money.

Residents complained of various health problems from using the local water, including respiratory disorders and skin lesions, despite officials' assurances that the water was safe.

Governor Rick Snyder and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling were among the defendants in the lawsuit. Walling lost his reelection bid to Weaver last month.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the Natural Resources Defense Council said last month they also intend to sue if problems are not fixed.

Residents are advised to continue using water filters while officials work to develop long term solutions.

Flint is located about 70 miles (110 km) northwest of Detroit.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Ben Klayman and Frances Kerry)

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