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Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said Friday that federal aid is not needed in Flint. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Watchdog calls on EPA to strengthen oversight of state water systems after Flint crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems in the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan.

READ MORE: Study confirms how lead got into Flint’s water

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General says in a report that the agency must take steps now to be able to react more quickly in times of public health emergencies.

Flint’s tap water became contaminated with lead in 2014 after officials switched from the Detroit system to the Flint River to save money.

Afterward, some children were found to have elevated lead levels in their blood.

A whistleblower in the EPA’s Chicago office warned colleagues about the crisis in early 2015 but the agency didn’t act until months later.

The EPA says it agrees with the recommendations and is adopting them.