Snyder OKs faster lead notification requirements after Flint water crisis

SOURCE: MGN

LANSING, Mich. (AP) More than 15 months after Flint's water emergency broke open, Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday signed into law the first policy change stemming from the man-made crisis.

The new law requires utilities to more quickly warn customers if there is too much lead in their water. The deadline is now three business days instead of 30 days.

The Republican governor, who has apologized for his administration's role in contaminating Flint's water supply, signed the legislation at a Flint church. "This is an important step in our ongoing efforts to strengthen Michigan's water quality and infrastructure," said Snyder, who was joined by local lawmakers.

The state previously allocated nearly $300 million toward the crisis in which 12 people died from Legionnaires' disease that also has been blamed on improperly treated water from the Flint River. An ongoing investigation has led to charges against 13 current or former government officials, including two managers that Snyder appointed to run the city while it was under state management.

"It is my hope that this bill will protect the public from unknowingly using or consuming unclean water in the future and prevent another water crisis from occurring in a Michigan community again," said Democratic Rep. Sheldon Neeley of Flint, who sponsored the bill.

Flint's nearly 100,000 residents continue drinking either filtered tap water or bottled water. The state acknowledged the lead problem in October 2015. The water source had been switched in April 2014, when lead from old pipes began leaching into the water supply because corrosion-reducing phosphates were not added due to an incorrect reading of federal regulations.

The signing preceded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "data summit" that will be held Tuesday in Chicago. City, state and federal officials will join other water experts to share and review testing data from Flint. The meeting will be closed to the media. Many of the scientists also will present their findings to the public at a town hall in Flint the next day.