By Devin Henry - 01/15/16 09:27 AM EST
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is requesting emergency federal assistance to help deal with the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich.
Snyder’s office said late Thursday that he is requesting President Obama declare a federal emergency and an expedited major disaster status for Genesee County. He requested federal aid for both individuals in Flint and public institutions responding to the crisis there, his office said.
Drinking water in the region has seen elevated lead levels since officials switched the source from Detroit’s municipal supply to the Flint River. The problems have become a full-blown crisis, with the corrosiveness of the water making it harmful to drink.
Federal officials are now investigating whether an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease there has been caused by the drinking water, and the state has been forced to haul in bottled water for citizens to drink.
Snyder declared a state emergency in the area on Jan. 5, but he has been broadly criticized for both allowing Flint to switch the water supply and not acting quickly enough to confront the problems caused by the drinking water.
Snyder acknowledged Thursday that his administration “didn’t recognize it as quickly as we should have,” the Detroit Free Press reports. Asked about the criticism, Snyder told the paper, “I appreciate that people are upset about the situation.”