Flint water crisis: Rick Snyder seeks economic disaster declaration

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on lead contamination of Flint’s water (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Gov. Rick Snyder is seeking an economic disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration for Flint and Genesee County as the city struggles with lead-tainted water.

Snyder’s office says the request was made Thursday and would pave the way for financial assistance for city residents and business owners affected by the contaminated water from aging water pipes.

If approved, low-interest loans would be made available for small businesses and private, nonprofit organizations that suffered substantial economic injury as a direct result of the contaminated public water supply.

The city’s water supply became contaminated with lead when it switched its source from Detroit to the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

At the time, Flint was under state financial oversight.

6 p.m.

Federal officials are continuing to urge Flint residents to use filters on their tap water.

Mark Durno of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says water has been tested again at some of the 26 homes that showed very high lead levels last week in unfiltered water. He says the results were much better when water was run through a filter.

Durno and Dr. Nicole Lurie of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spoke to reporters Thursday.

Durno says it’s important to replace filters and separately clean out any debris that gets caught in the faucet aerator, typically a small screen at the faucet tip.

Flint has a lead problem because a lack of corrosion control in the water caused lead to leach from old plumbing for 18 months.

2:10 p.m.

Internal emails show that high-ranking officials in Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration were aware of a surge in Legionnaires’ disease potentially linked to Flint’s water long before the governor reported the increase to the public.

When he disclosed the spike in January, Snyder said he had learned about it just a couple of days earlier. But emails obtained by the liberal group Progress Michigan through public-records requests and shared with The Associated Press show Snyder’s own office was aware of the outbreak since last March.

The outbreak was also well known within state agencies, according to emails obtained separately by the AP and other news organizations.

A spokesman says Snyder never knew about the outbreak despite an aide knowing 10 months earlier.

11:50 a.m.

The Michigan Senate has voted to spend $30 million to help pay the water bills of Flint residents who have a lead-contaminated water supply.

The bill approved 37-0 Thursday goes to the House for its consideration.

The city’s water supply became contaminated when it switched its source from Detroit to the Flint River in 2014.

The aid would provide credit for the estimated portion of residential customers’ bills for water that was or will be used for drinking, cooking or bathing from 2014 until this spring. Customers would remain responsible for paying for water used for other purposes, such as flushing toilets or washing clothes.

Majority Republicans rejected Democrats’ calls to double the appropriation to $60 million so residents would be fully credited for their bills.

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