Pastors meet with Flint mayor after sit down with Governor's office

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FLINT (WJRT) - (10/01/15) - The Concerned Pastors for Social Action were in Lansing early Thursday morning to meet with Governor Rick Snyder's staff about Flint's water crisis.

Later in the day, they met with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling. The ministers told ABC12 News they plead their case to both, but walked away from each meeting with different thoughts.

Only ABC12 was in Lansing as the ministers walked into the governor's executive office.

"We feel that Lansing is totally engaged to what's going on here in Flint," said Pastor Allen Overton, a member of Concerned Pastors for Social Action. "They're trying to do the fact-finding now to find out where everything lies and what the resources are to get this problem resolved in the city of Flint."

Snyder's Deputy Press Secretary Dave Murray said the state is committed to helping the city find a resolution to the lead and other concerns with Flint's water system and infrastructure.

"I think all options are on the table. We respect the work of the pastors group. They've worked very closely with us for a long time on this issue," Murray said. "They're passionate about the community. They're passionate about helping their congregation members, but the community as a whole."

ABC12 asked Murray why it's taken so long to reach a heightened sense of urgency.

"There's been a lot of work going on and a lot of it is looking at pipes and a problem that's been existing for a long time. We want to make sure we help today, but also long into the future. It's an aging water infrastructure in Flint," Murray said. "Some of these problems are caused by pipes underground in the city, pipes in peoples houses. It's old houses, it's old pipes (and) it's an old system."

The pastors said they told state officials a return to the Detroit Water System is the best option.

Murray said that option is on the table, but there may be a "better" option.

"We're seeing what we can do short-term...what we can do long-term to help Flint with its infrastructure needs and make sure residents get the safe, clean water that they need and deserve," Murray said.

Overton had a different takeaway from the group meeting with Walling.

"We feel that they continue to give us a lot of excuses on why the problem is, and we think that they need to address the problem in a more effective and efficient manner," Overton said.

The mayor called the meeting productive.

"We went back and forth on a couple of the issues that were more technical in nature, but we all have a great deal of concern," Walling said.

Walling said when the medical community stepped forth last week with data on elevated lead levels in children's' blood, it prompted the city to take additional action.

"Were mistakes made on the city's part?" reporter Damon Maloney asked the mayor, in relation to the switch to the Flint River as the city's water source.

"Yeah, there were unanticipated complications of switching to the River," Walling said.

Walling maintains he's been working to find solutions to problems as they've come to light - including the installation of carbon filters at the water plant to deal with TTHM problems.

"The corrosion control is the next major step," Walling said. "We have that recommendation from the state, and we'll be working with them to get it in place as soon as possible."

In mid-September, the city released a statement saying it hoped to add a corrosion control agent to the water by early 2016.

Overton said the concerned pastors group won't rest until safe water is flowing through all city pipes and homes.

"And I cannot believe they're going to continue this another week (or) another day to have this Flint River water going through our pipes. We need to change it," Overton said.

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