The governor in the northern U.S. state of Michigan is calling for a $195 million plan to help resolve the toxic water crisis in the city of Flint, where lead has been found in the blood streams of more than 200 children.
"Clean drinking water is a human necessity," Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said Wednesday as he offered a plan that, in part, would start to replace the old lead water pipes that run from Flint's streets into its homes.
The state has already directed more than $37 million toward the disaster in Flint, trucking in water filters and thousands of bottles of water to the city of 100,000 residents, the majority of them black.
The water crisis emerged as Michigan state officials, managing the financially troubled city's affairs, tried to save money by switching the city's water supply in April 2014 from Lake Huron, via the Detroit system, to the Flint River, which courses through Flint.
But over the ensuing months, the city's residents complained about the odd, brownish color of the water and its taste. Tests later showed that lead had seeped into the city's water supply from its corroded pipes, a problem that could have been avoided, but wasn't, with $100-a-day anti-corrosion chemicals.
The city switched back to the Detroit supply last October as the scope of the crisis became apparent. Snyder, once the chief executive of the Gateway computer company and a venture capitalist, has taken the blame for the disaster, but has resisted calls for his resignation.
In announcing his Flint plan as part of the annual state budget proposal, Snyder said, "The issue now is we have citizens in need. Let's address those issues, let's take care of it."
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the actions of government officials involved in the Flint crisis to determine whether any criminal offenses were committed. One state investigator said charges as serious as manslaughter could be brought if it turns out that drinking the toxic water causes any deaths.
Lead contamination in children is especially debilitating, causing developmental delays, learning disabilities and aggressive behavior.
Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.