In a mostly conciliatory address in which she repeatedly thanked those who have reached out to her beleaguered city during the “shocking and unprecedented” water crisis, the mayor of Flint, Mich., did take aim at Washington in her first State of the City speech.
“Even with the good news, so much more needs to be done to get the lead out of Flint and get the financial and other resources our citizens and our businesses need to recover from this disaster,” Karen Weaver told a packed Flint City Council chambers Nov. 4. “That’s especially true when it comes to the U.S. Congress, which left for its annual summer recess without committing one thin dime to help overcome one of the nation’s most horrendous water disasters. The 100,000 residents of Flint must not be a priority, not for those who control the U.S. House and Senate.”
In April 2014, to save money while awaiting the completion of a Lake Huron-sourced pipeline by the new Karegnondi Water Authority, the City of Flint switched from the Detroit system—also sourced from Lake Huron—to its own water system sourced from the Flint River. At the time, the city was under state-appointed emergency management.
“Flint, as we all know, is the canary in the coal mine,” said Weaver, who inherited the resulting lead contamination crisis when elected mayor in November, 2015. “If Flint is forgotten, and left to suffer alone after a decade of neglect and a man-made disaster, it will be a sad reflection of the challenges facing our entire nation and its people.”
Returning to the positive theme of the evening, she touted Flint as “the beginning of a lead-free America.”
While endeavoring to replace every lead-contaminated water pipe, her city is looking ahead to next spring, when it will host the nation’s first drinking-water critical infrastructure summit. “No other city, no other people, should have to go through what Flint and its residents have had to endure."
Removing the lead is taking longer than hoped, admitted a “frustrated” Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel, who heads the program.
Editor's Note: Article updated Aug. 11.