Flint’s water quality has improved enough to allow city officials to close several locations where residents had been getting free bottled water and filters.
Officials have closed five of the nine locations that doled out water bottles, but will keep the remaining sites running “indefinitely,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Wednesday during a press conference. The other locations will begin shuttering later this month.
The water coursing into Flint homes contained levels of lead that didn’t exceed the federal safety standard of 15 parts per billion, according to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources. Flint’s water is now testing at seven parts per billion.
Flint’s water system was contaminated with lead after Michigan officials switched the small Eastern Michigan city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014 in a bid to save money. But the state applied the wrong regulations and standards for drinking water, which ultimately resulted in corroded pipes. The city now gets its water from Detroit.
The scandal has resulted in criminal charges being leveled against various city officials. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, for instance, charged Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon with neglecting to inform the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area shortly after high levels were discovered.
Shuette, a Republican, brought charges last year against three other state employees connected to the years-long crisis.
Health and Human Services employees Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott and Corrine Miller, were charged with misconduct in office, as well as conspiring to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. The three state employees allegedly withheld or disregarded blood tests showing high lead levels.
Schuette also charged in July 2016 one Flint water department employee, as well as two mid-level Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulators in April with felonies and misdemeanors for allowing people to continue drinking Flint’s lead-tainted water.
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