Michigan Governor Asks for Federal Disaster Declaration Over Flint Water Crisis

And Michigan Attorney General has opened investigation into the crisis.

ByABC News
January 15, 2016, 1:19 PM

— -- The fallout from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, continues as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked for increased federal help to combat lead contamination in the municipal water supply and Michigan's attorney general announced today he would launch an investigation into the matter.

Snyder is seeking a presidential emergency and major disaster declaration to help residents as the battle to rid city water of lead contamination continues. Water in Flint has been compromised after the city switched its water supply from the Detroit line to the Flint River in March 2014. The contamination has yet to abate even after the supply was switched back to Detroit.

Snyder asked President Barack Obama to make a declaration for Genesee County, where Flint is located. He is asking for federal aid to help protect the health and welfare of residents in the area.

"We are utilizing all state resources to ensure Flint residents have access to clean and safe drinking water and today I am asking President Obama to provide additional resources as our recovery efforts continue," Snyder said Thursday.

Snyder asked for aid that could include grants for temporary housing or home repair and provide low-cost loans for uninsured property. Additionally, he is seeking assistance that could cover the cost of the damage to public facilities and infrastructure. The announcement comes 10 days after Snyder declared a state of emergency on Jan. 5. The National Guard was called in this week to help deliver bottled water and filters door to door in Flint.

Meanwhile, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced an investigation into the ongoing crisis to see if any laws were violated.

"As a husband and father I greatly empathize with the fears of Flint parents and family members, who are rightly concerned for their health," Schuette said in a statement today. "In 21st century America, no one should have to fear something as basic as turning on the kitchen faucet."

Michigan National Guard Staff Sergeant William Phillips of Birch Run, Michigan, helps unload pallets of bottled water at a Flint Fire Station, Jan. 13, 2016, in Flint, Michigan.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

When Flint switched its water supply from the Detroit supply to the Flint River, it was intended as a temporary measure until a new water line to Lake Huron could be built. But improperly treated water from the Flint River caused lead to leach from the pipes, officials said. The water supply was changed back to Detroit in October, but a state spokeswoman said that the anti-corrosive chemical being used takes time to work and stop the lead from leaching from the pipes.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, said parents are coming in with grave concerns about the possibility of elevated lead levels in their children.

"It's not until the kid is older, [when] they need the executive function that we see the delayed development," associated with lead exposure, Hanna-Attisha told ABC News. "It affects brain development."

Lead is a known neurotoxin in children and Hanna-Attisha said that it could lead to a "lifetime" of consequences, from lower IQ scores to behavioral issues.