FLINT, Mich. - A federal judge has ordered Flint, Michigan, to choose a long-term source of drinking water by next Monday, as in Oct. 23.
Judge David Lawson said Tuesday that the Flint City Council has committed a "breathtaking" failure of leadership in its dealings with the state of Michigan.
Gov. Rick Snyder's administration sued Flint to force the council to approve a 30-year deal with the Great Lakes Water Authority, a regional agency. Mayor Karen Weaver has signed off but that's not enough.
The council has repeatedly said it needs more time to study its options.
Flint has been getting water from Great Lakes Water since the lead disaster of 2015. The state says a long-term deal will keep Flint's water fund solvent and alleviate the need to raise rates.
Mayor Karen Weaver issued the following statement:
"After months of research and consulting with experts, in April of this year I presented City Council, and the citizens of Flint, with a viable long-term and back-up water source recommendation. My recommendation, to continue getting our water from the Great Lakes Water Authority, proved to be in the best interest of public health by avoiding another water source switch, which could result in unforeseen issues.
"The recommendation I put forth would also avoid a projected 55 percent water rate increase and ensure the City of Flint gets millions of dollars to continue replacing lead tainted pipes, and make much-needed repairs to our damaged infrastructure, so we are able to deliver quality water to residents. The people of Flint have waited long enough for a reliable, permanent water source, and implementing my recommendation will provide that.
"I appreciate Judge Lawson for recognizing there is no need to wait to make a decision that could have, and should have, been made months ago. We can only hope that now City Council will put the people of Flint first, and comply with the judge’s order so we can move forward."
Michigan's chief medical executive could face manslaughter charge
Meanwhile, a special prosecutor said he'll add a charge of involuntary manslaughter against Michigan's chief medical executive in a criminal investigation of the Flint water crisis. Dr. Eden Wells was in court last week for a key hearing on other charges. But the hearing was postponed after the announcement by Todd Flood. The Associated Press reported Wells' lawyer couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Wells originally was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator. She will now face the additional charges of manslaughter and misconduct in office. Court is adjourned until Nov. 6.
Five other people have been charged with involuntary manslaughter tied to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area in 2014-15. The attorney general's office says key officials knew about a spike in Legionnaires' but failed to tell the public until January 2016.
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