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Date: Sunday, January 17, 2016
State of emergency in Michigan over contaminated water
US President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan over contaminated drinking water.
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Obama ordered on Saturday that federal aid be used for state and local response efforts be made in the areas affected.

"The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population," the White House said in a statement.

The measure is being taken to “lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in Genesee County,” it added.

The city’s pipes were corroded and its water supply was filled with high levels of lead after the local officials decided to switch water sources.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder called on the president to declare both an emergency and a major disaster in Genesee County in a bid to protect Flint’s residents.

Earlier this week, Governor Snyder asked the Michigan National Guard to distribute bottles of water and other supplies in the area.

He also requested $31mn from the federal government, but reports show that Obama denied Snyder’s request that would have freed up more than the $5mn since such declarations are only made for natural disasters.

Tests conducted in October revealed that lead levels in water supplies and in children's blood had increased. Lead exposure can lead to learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.

There had been complaints about discolored water, bad smells, headaches and rashes caused by the city's new supplier.

Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River in 2014 after which it has switched back to Detroit's water.

The current problem "is a human tragedy in which families are struggling even with the most basic parts of daily life", said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

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