Michigan environmental agency to present Flint water-testing plan: report

The top of a water tower is seen at the Flint Water Plant in Flint, Michigan January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) - The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will present a comprehensive plan to federal officials on Monday to test lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, the Detroit Free Press reported. The goal would be to come up with a reliable assessment for the water system by April 14, when Michigan's state of emergency is set to expire, the paper said. Officials at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality could not be immediately reached for comment. The financially strapped city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager when it switched its source of tap water from Detroit's system to the nearby Flint River in April 2014, in order to save money. The more corrosive water from the Flint River leached more lead from the city pipes than Detroit water did. Residents complained of various health problems from using the local water after this switch, including respiratory disorders and skin lesions, despite officials' assurances that the water was safe. Flint, which is about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Detroit, returned to using that city's water in October after tests found elevated levels of lead in the water and in the blood of some children. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has repeatedly apologized for the state's poor handling of the issue. Some portions of the city's water system could be given an all-clear on a rolling basis in conjunction with local, federal and independent experts before mid-April, the paper said, citing other state officials. MDEQ Director Keith Creagh, who took over after his predecessor resigned in December due to fallout from the water crisis, told the newspaper his department would outline the plan on Monday to federal EPA officials. The plan anticipates four rounds of testing, with each round taking about two weeks, to establish a baseline for lead in the water and where people are being exposed to contaminants, he told the newspaper. Creagh said he hoped "to be able to say something about the general health of the system come mid-April," according to the paper. (Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum)