Experts in public health, water management, environmental protection to focus on steps to protect residents
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the creation of an independent advisory task force charged with reviewing actions regarding water use and testing in Flint and offer recommendations for future guidelines to protect the health and safety of all state residents.
Task force members include experts in public health and medicine, water management, and environmental protection from both sides of the aisle, and will be co-chaired by Ken Sikkema of Public Sector Consultants and Chris Kolb, of the Michigan Environmental Council. Also serving will be Dr. Matthew Davis of the University of Michigan Health System, Eric Rothstein, of the Galardi Rothstein Group and Dr. Lawrence Reynolds of Mott Children’s Health Center in Flint.
“Transitioning back to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department-Great Lakes Water Authority is a good first step to protecting public health in Flint, but it’s not the last step,” Snyder said. “Bringing in outside experts to evaluate our actions and help monitor and advise on potential changes to law, procedures and practices will be key to continuing work on the comprehensive action plan and ensuring safe drinking water for all the residents in Flint and all of Michigan.”
Snyder said the administration will fully cooperate with task force members, saying he wants an unbiased report focusing on steps taken in the past and recommendations that could improve practices to ensure all residents have access to safe, clean water.
Ken Sikkema is a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, where he specializes in public finance, environment, and energy policy. Prior to joining the firm, Sikkema served in both the Michigan House and Senate, culminating with four years as Senate majority leader. He has also served as both an adjunct and visiting professor at Grand Valley State University.
Chris Kolb is president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a statewide coalition of 70 environmental, public health and faith-based nonprofit groups. Before joining the MEC, Kolb represented Ann Arbor in the state House for six years and served six years on the Ann Arbor City Council. He has been president of the MEC for six years.
Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., is professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System and professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School at the University of Michigan, having joined the faculty in 2000. Davis also is a professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health. He previously served as the chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Community Health/Department of Health and Human Services.
Eric Rothstein is a national water issues consultant and principal at the Galardi Rothstein Group. He served as an independent advisor on the creation of the Great Lakes Water Authority. Rothstein also has served as Jefferson County, Alabama’s rate consultant and municipal adviser for litigation related to the county’s bankruptcy and issuance of $1.7 billion in sewer warrants and led strategic financial planning for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management. He has more than 30 years of experience in water, wastewater and stormwater utility finance and rate-making assessments.
Lawrence Reynolds, M.D., is a pediatrician in Flint who serves as president of the Mott Children’s Health Center. He received his medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine and has been in practice for 36 years. He has served as president of the Genesee County Medical Society and the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has been honored for his humanitarian and advocacy efforts on behalf of children from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
Snyder has said reconnecting with the authority is a critical step to resolving water quality issues and addressing related health concerns. It will not immediately resolve the city’s problem with lead service lines or aging infrastructure. It will take time for pipes in Flint to become coated with the phosphate corrosion control.
To best protect public health, state and local authorities will continue to carry out steps outlined on Oct. 2 in a comprehensive action plan, including continued testing, the use of faucet filters and providing residents with accurate information about steps to eliminate lead exposure. The Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services are continuing to provide free water filters, free lead testing through the state laboratory for Flint water customers, and hiring additional staff to conduct health exposure monitoring for lead in drinking water.