Gov. Rick Snyder apologized to the City of Flint Tuesday for the Flint drinking water crisis that has left children poisoned by lead and announced he has accepted the resignation of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant.
The governor, who had previously stood by his DEQ director amid the controversy, said,
The Free Press reported Thursday (external - login to view) that records obtained by the Michigan ACLU and Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards show elevated lead levels in Flint's drinking water would have spurred action months sooner if the results of city testing that wrapped up in June had not been revised by the DEQ to wrongly indicate the water was safe to drink.
Flint, which was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager at the time of the cost-cutting move, switched its drinking water source, starting in April 2014, from Lake Huron water supplied by Detroit to the much more polluted and corrosive water from the Flint River.
The state has acknowledged it misinterpreted a federal rule and failed to require Flint to add needed corrosion control chemicals which would have prevented lead from leaching into the drinking water from pipes, connections and fixtures.
That change in the drinking water source brought immediate complaints from Flint residents about the taste, smell and appearance of the water. The lead tests of the water could have spurred action in July, but instead it was not until October, after blood test results analyzed by Hurley Children's Hospital pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha showed elevated lead levels in Flint children, that the DEQ admitted making a mistake by failing to require the addition of corrosion control chemicals to the Flint River water. The state also then provided funds to help Flint reconnect to Lake Huron water supplied by Detroit.
Lead can cause irreversible brain damage in children and has also been linked to behavioral problems.
Melissa Mays, a Flint resident who drank the contaminated water along with her three boys, said she was more shocked by Snyder's apology than by Wyant's resignation. She welcomed the announcements but said more DEQ officials need to be removed because Flint residents can't trust those same officials to make sure their water is safe to drink today.
"This all should have happened a long time ago, and it's also not enough," she said.
Snyder apologizes, Wyant resigns in Flint water crisis (external - login to view)