Federal Agencies Working To Assist Residents in Flint, Mich.

February 17, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

warning-dirty-water-3-1159678Having clean, safe water available to drink is something many of us take for granted. What we’ve seen in Flint, Mich., over the last few months has done nothing but emphasize the importance of protecting water resources to ensure the health of the citizens of our communities.

Federal agencies are doing what they can to help the residents of Flint, Mich., cope with their water crisis. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) planned to collaborate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education and Agriculture (USDA) to assist the residents in Flint.

HHS has been working to: (1) provide, at Michigan’s request, a range of technical assistance to state and local health departments, public health practices for medical professionals and public health communications; (2) assist HHS grant recipients to disseminate public health education through Head Start and Community Health Centers programs; (3) provide technical assistance related to case management processes and interventions for children with high blood lead levels and interpretation of blood lead levels in adults; and (4) use existing resources to help the state identify vulnerable populations in Flint who may need further targeted outreach.

Other agencies also have provided assistance in other ways. FEMA is providing bottled water and filters to the residents of Flint. EPA is working with state and local officials to reduce lead levels in tap water to provide safe drinking water to the residents of Flint. It also is conducting a comprehensive audit of the Michigan drinking water program, as well as a detailed review Michigan’s implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint. HUD is working closely with the city on economic development and interagency coordination to help the city purchase and install water filters and to use lead hazard grant funds to address the water lead contamination.

USDA also has waived requirements on potable tap water availability at school meal service, allowing schools to provide bottled water. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is also allowing participants to use WIC vouchers for ready-to-feed infant formula, which does not need to be mixed with water, and participants can also swap powdered formula for ready-to-feed formula. USDA officials also said they will allow Michigan to use WIC funds temporarily to conduct lead testing for WIC participants. The agency estimated that some 3,800 WIC participants could potentially be tested.

It’s promising to see these agencies working together to help address this nightmare that is continuing to plague the residents of Flint, Mich. Hopefully, safe drinking water will again be available to Flint residents, but until then, we support any efforts federal agencies can take to help them.

Let us know your reaction to the Flint water crises and what you think federal agencies can do to help.

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