Independent Review Confirms State Made Decision to Use Flint River, Failed to Ensure Corrosion Control

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) and State Representative Sheldon Neeley (D–Flint) responded today to an independent review that confirmed that Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality failed to ensure proper corrosion control was used to treat Flint River water and that the State was responsible for the decision to use the river as the City of Flint’s primary drinking water source.

The letter from the State Auditor General was the initial response to questions raised by Sen. Ananich in October. The Auditor General is working on a more thorough review and expects to have additional information in the coming months.

“The Auditor General has provided an important piece of this puzzle and I’m sure the extended report they are working on will reveal additional information,” Sen. Ananich said. “What’s clear is that corrosion control should have been used and there are serious failings in our system that must be addressed. Between the FOIA emails released recently and these findings, it’s obvious that legislative oversight is the best way to see how all of these pieces fit together. I expect holding hearings to be high on the agenda when the Legislature returns.”

In response to the question about whether corrosion control treatment should have been maintained when the switch for the water source was made to the Flint River, the Auditor General letter concludes, “We believe that corrosion control treatment should have been maintained.”

With regard to how the decision was made about using the Flint River as the primary drinking water source, the letter states, “Although the Flint City Council voted in March 2013 in support of moving to the KWA pipeline, the vote was silent on the use of Flint River water as a temporary drinking water source.”

This is contrary to recent claims that somehow this local vote was in favor of using the river.

“This is another example of how the state failed initially, and continues to fail by not treating this situation like the emergency it is,” Rep. Neeley said. “We need answers, we need action, and we need them sooner rather than later.”

Sen. Ananich and Rep. Neeley have been calling for legislative hearings and a more aggressive response since the Flint water crisis began. They also have been working with local and federal officials on securing additional resources to make safe water available to all residents, and to combat the health impacts of the lead that has been consumed.

A copy of the Auditor General’s letter is available online.


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