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Michigan governor plans stricter lead-test rules after Flint

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday he wants Flint and the entire state to have more stringent lead-level regulations than what federal rules require, in the wake of the city's water contamination.

In the long term Michigan will comply with a "much higher standard," according to a state document laying out the next steps in Flint in four areas - water supply and infrastructure, health and human services, education, and economic development.

The Republican governor, who has called the federal Lead and Copper Rule "dumb and dangerous," did not specify what lead-testing regulations his administration will seek. Under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules, a water system must take steps to control corrosion if lead concentrations exceed 15 parts per billion in more than 10 percent of customer taps sampled.

"About 10 percent of your population could have lead in their water over the action limit and the EPA will sign off and say that your municipal water system is OK," Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said.

Snyder's proposal "isn't specifically defined," he said, but will "certainly be better than the current rule."

Much of the plan released Monday is not necessarily new but more of an effort to compile various state tasks into one document - both to delineate short-, medium and long-range goals but also to combat critics who have accused Snyder of not doing enough to help Flint.

Snyder testified last week in Congress, where he came under intense questioning. He blamed career bureaucrats in Washington and in his state but also repeatedly apologized for his role in the crisis, which occurred when the city, under state financial management, switched the water supply to the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

A failure to deploy anti-corrosion chemicals enabled lead to leach from aging pipes and reach homes. Some children's blood has tested positive for lead, which has been linked to learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

Goals in the outline Monday that already have been completed include offering children under age 6 with high blood-lead levels support and case management, distributing water instruction flyers in other languages and getting a team in place to help with economic development.

Many tasks are unfinished, including replacing thousands of lead pipes running from water mains to houses and businesses - it could take years - along with swapping out faucets and fixtures in schools, day care centers and other public facilities.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Monday that work is ramping up to replace an initial 30 lead service lines by the end of the month.

Also Monday, Genesee County sent a letter to Snyder demanding reimbursement for more than $1.1 million for what it spent in response to Flint's water crisis. The state, which has allocated $67 million toward the disaster, will "take it under advisement," Adler said.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)