Details concerning the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Mich. continue to emerge. On Thursday, a series of emails released through a FOIA request show that city officials were well aware of the water contamination issue and the potential health risks for the city’s residents.
Rather than protect the citizens of Flint by taking action to alleviate the problem, city officials moved to protect themselves instead by having clean water delivered to city buildings. The emails acknowledge that chemical compounds known as TTHM (total trihalomethanes) had been found in the drinking water.
An internal email from Michael Prisby, a district engineer with the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, shows that concerns regarding the water appeared in early January of last year. “Appears certain state departments are concerned with Flint’s WQ [water quality]. I will return the call…,” the email from Jan. 9 2015 read.
Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence to come from the emails is an advisory from Jan. 7 2015: “The City of Flint recently sent out the attached notice regarding violations to the drinking water standards. While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.”
If “corrective actions” weren’t necessary, then why were taxpayer dollars used to make sure that drinking water for city officials was clean? Better yet, why hasn’t any sort of legal action been taken against a single person involved in the scandal? Residents complained about dirty and foul smelling water back when the city made the switch in April 2014 and continued to do so even after being told it was safe for consumption.
Due to the deliberate inaction and greed of Flint’s government, thousands of people have been exposed to life-changing risks, particularly children. It is disheartening to know that a government sat aside as its people suffered for the sake of the almighty dollar.
“It appears the state wasn’t as slow as we first thought in responding the Flint Water Crisis. Sadly, the only response was to protect the Snyder administration from future liability and not to protect the children of Flint from lead poisoning,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, in a press release statement on Thursday. “While residents were being told to relax and not worry about the water, the Snyder administration was taking steps to limit exposure in its own building.”
Today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $28 million funding bill to help alleviate the Flint water crisis.