Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, under fire after Flint residents’ water was poisoned with lead, will discuss the crisis at a news conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Flint’s state of emergency — declared at municipal and state levels — began years ago when the city suffered a financial emergency. The state took over the city’s budget and decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready.
After the April 2014 switch, residents complained their water had problems. A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality didn’t treat the water for corrosion, in accordance with federal law, and because so many Flint service lines are made of lead, the noxious element leached into the water of the city’s homes.
The city switched back to the Lake Huron water supply in October, but the damage was already done to the lead pipes. The state is now handing out filters and bottled water via the National Guard.
Officials under fire
Snyder has blamed the crisis on incompetent bureaucrats, specifically citing “a handful of quote-unquote experts that were career civil servant people that made terrible decisions.”
Already, Susan Hedman, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for Flint, has resigned.
The matter has been discussed on social media, particularly by filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore. He said the governor should be arrested for his role in the water crisis. A state plan to save $15 million on Flint’s water bills may now cost $1.5 billion to clean up, Moore said.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette said he is appointing a former prosecutor and Detroit’s former FBI chief to join the investigation of the water crisis, creating a “conflict wall” between the state’s inquiry and the lawsuits targeting the state.
The state investigation will determine “whether any Michigan laws were violated in the process that created a major public health crisis for Flint residents.”