Gov. Whitmer says she is committed to making sure Flint has bottled water

By Hank Winchester - Reporter, Kelley Kosuda - Producer, Ken Haddad

FLINT, Mich. - Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the state will make sure Flint residents have access to bottled water if Nestle stops distribution.

Local 4's Hank Winchester talked to Whitmer about the Flint Water Crisis and what the state is doing to ensure clean drinking water in the city and around Michigan.

Nestle has made a commitment since May 2018 with the Flint mayor and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to help distribute bottled water to Flint residents. Nestle said they will stop distributing water to Flint residents in April. 

"I'm gonna make sure Flint has access to bottled water, absolutely, until the pipes are done," Whitmer said. "We're going to make make sure it happens."

Whitmer's team will work with Nestle or seek out other donations to ensure people in Flint have access to bottle water untill all the work is done.

Whitmer also talked about trying to earn trust back from residents.

"Some people may never trust state government again and it will have nothing to do with me or my administration, but it is real, and I am determined to work to re-earn it," Whitmer said.

Whitmer also said she hopes, through the ongoing investigation, that residents get justice.

"My goal is to get justice for the people of Flint, and my job is to make sure that people of Flint can trust the water," Whitmer said, adding AG Dana Nessel and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy are "going to work until they're absolutely confident that anyone who should be held accountable is being held accountable."

Last April, former Gov. Rick Snyder announced free bottled water stations in Flint would close after two years in operation. 

Residents and local officials criticized the move, noting that many in the city of 100,000 remain distrustful after their water supply was contaminated with lead for 18 months. The contamination happened in 2014 and 2015 when officials used river water that wasn't properly treated. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures, and the state is still working to replace pipes in the community.

After Snyder declared a state of emergency on Jan. 5, 2016, Flint residents trekked to fire stations for filters as well as daily rations of one case of bottled water per household. The Michigan National Guard and volunteers also went door-to-door to distribute water and filters.

The state began shutting down Flint's nine total free bottled water sites in 2017, after test results showed lead and copper levels had dipped below federal action levels.

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