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EPA asserts a greater role as water crisis in Michigan continues

A member of the National Guard helps distribute bottled water to residents of Flint, Michigan, earlier this month. Photo from Michigan State Police / Flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency order on Thursday, asserting a greater role in the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Extremely high levels of lead have been detected in the city's water system, posing a danger to human lives. Thousands of residents have been drinking bottled water for months but the state and federal government haven't taken stronger action until recently.

"The EPA and other federal agencies are working closely with the state and city to address the public health emergency that is now unfolding as a result of the failure to properly operate Flint's system, leading to multiple health-based drinking water violations and unsafe lead levels in the city's drinking water," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

The move came as Susan Hedman, the administrator for the EPA region that includes Michigan, announced her resignation. Dan Wyant resigned as the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality late last month and Snyder has apologized for not taking the situation more seriously.

Tribes have been paying attention. The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe donated about 1,000 cases of bottled water last October and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians donated $10,000 to help address the crisis this week.

Flint falls within traditional Chippewa and Ottawa territory although very few Native Americans live in the city and Genesee County today.

Get the Story:
EPA orders state action, takes over testing of Flint water (MLive 1/21)
EPA issues emergency order over Flint water crisis, administrator who oversees Michigan resigns (The Washington Post 1/21)
Flint Fallout: A Resignation, a Hearing and U.S. Aid (The New York Times 1/22)

Related Stories:
Little River Band contributes $10K to assist city during water crisis (1/19)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe donates bottled water for city residents (10/7)

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