Water quality in Flint reaches crisis level

Michigan has more fresh water than any other state. Then why is Flint using some of the most dangerous water in the country?

The water from the Flint River is very corrosive and with the city's lead service lines, it leads to lead in the water that you drink, cook and clean with. That’s what several people are saying is happening in Flint and it could have very serious long-term effects.

"Because if what's happening with the lead and copper poisoning, I've developed several auto immune disorders," said resident Melissa Mays.

Mays says Flint's water woes are not just taking a toll on her, but also her three sons,  who are all dealing with high levels of lead in their blood.

"The side effects are irreparable," she said. "The damage that's done to their brains, their bones, it's unbelievable."

And the guilt almost unbearable.

"I did this to my kids by giving them the water that was coming from my tap," she said. "That is going to haunt me forever and now I have to wait and see what's going to happen to them next and what happens to the kids younger than mine."

A year after the city began using the Flint River as its water source; a local hospital's study found the number of Flint kids under the age of 5 years old with above average lead levels nearly doubled city-wide and in some cases, tripled.

Virginia Tech University tested resident Ronda Thornton's water. Anything more than 30 micrograms a liter is a sign of serious lead contamination. Hers registered 138.

"I've been so sick I haven't been able to eat for months," Thornton said. "And basically I've been having to take medicine to be able to eat."

FOX 2: "Would you call this a public health crisis?"

"There's no question about it," said Jim Ananich, Senate minority leader and Flint resident. "I've talked with the governor and members of his administration and also talked with his chief of staff about how serious this issue is.

"I've expressed to them, we need to take this as a serious public health issue. We need to do everything we can; rather it's replacing lead service lines, or looking at the source of the water."

And the study urged Flint to replace the river as its drinking water source. Flint stopped using Detroit water in 2014 citing high costs.

But its residents however are more than willing to pay for it.

"Detroit's water is notably studies say up to 19 times less corrosive," Mays said.

Gary Brown says the Detroit Water and Sewer Department would be glad to enter into contract negotiations with Flint but the spokesperson for Flint Mayor Dane Walling's office says doing that is not an option.

The city is trying to get $30 million from the state to improve its water infrastructure.