Cher donates over 180,000 water bottles to Flint, Michigan after local supply is poisoned by lead

The city has been relying on local river water since 2014 which has been contaminated by old lead pipes

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The Independent Online

Cher has donated 180,000 bottles of water to a city in Michigan after its water supply became so contaminated with lead residents were unable to drink it.

President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint in the west of the state on Saturday over corrosive water leaking from old pipes in the Flint river.

The city had been drawing on reserves from the river since 2014 to keep costs down but the local government did not treat the corrosive water properly and it began to erode the old lead pipes.  

A makeshift water collection point in Flint, Michigan

In a statement on Saturday, the singer said the bottles are due to arrive in the city on Wednesday.

She said: "This is a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it's happening in the middle of our country."

The city’s 100,000 residents have reported vomiting fits, rashes and hair loss as a result of drinking the foul-smelling water. 

Lead poisoning can also led to learning disabilities and behavioural problems in young children. 

Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, the director of pediatric residency at the local Hurley Children’s Hospital, first exposed the problems after state authorities initially dismissed her concerns. 

She said: "It has such damning, lifelong and generational consequences.

"It was frustrating that it went on for so long".  

Flint resident Mike Hickey holds the hand of his daughter Natielee, 4, as they walk through pastactivists protest outside of City Hall to protest Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's handling of the water crisis

Currently parents are relying on bottled water and regular blood tests at local schools. 

Sherri Millter, who has taken her son Jameer to be tested, said: “It really is a scary situation to know that we can't get clean drinking water.It really is scary to think someone knew about this and did nothing”.  

Flint - which is an hour’s drive north of Detroit - has suffered from a declining population in recent years with the collapse of the Midwest car manufacturing industry leading to an exodus of people.

An estimated 41 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. 

Additional reporting by AP