Facts from the courtroom
July 6, 2022

Michigan Department of Treasury rejected the possibility of Flint returning to Detroit water multiple times

On June 30 and July 5, Wayne Workman’s video deposition was played in court. Mr. Workman worked for the Michigan Treasury Department during the Flint Water Crisis, where he was responsible for staffing and overseeing the State of Michigan’s emergency manager program. In this role, Mr. Workman supervised Flint’s emergency managers throughout the crisis and was involved in evaluating the option of returning Flint to DWSD as the crisis unfolded.

Mr. Workman’s testimony confirmed that, even as evidence of lead in Flint’s water continued to mount, neither the City of Flint nor the State of Michigan was willing to consider a return to DWSD under any circumstances.

Here’s what you need to know. 

The Michigan Department of Treasury rejected the possibility of Flint returning to DWSD multiple times throughout the crisis, including as late as September 2015.

  • Mr. Workman testified that Treasury was primarily responsible for evaluating the possibility of Flint returning to DWSD, and that such a decision could not have been made without Treasury’s approval. 
  • Treasury determined that reconnecting to DWSD was not a possibility due to Flint’s inability to pay for the switch. 
  • As late as September 2015, Mr. Workman’s supervisor Tom Saxton shared an evaluation of the financial pitfalls of returning to DWSD, explaining “I hope no one is still considering that option.”

Mr. Workman testified that, even if VNA had formally recommended returning to DWSD, it would not have made any difference in Treasury’s position. 

  • Mr. Workman’s testimony showed that City and State officials rejected the idea of Flint returning to DWSD multiple times throughout the crisis due to costs.
  • Even when presented with evidence that switching back to DWSD would help solve the City’s water quality issues, Treasury still rejected the idea of a return. 
  • Mr. Workman testified that it was unlikely Treasury would have approved Flint returning to DWSD even if VNA recommended it because Flint simply did not have the cash to do so.

Mr. Workman’s testimony further illustrated that the Flint Water Crisis was a catastrophic failure of government at every level.

  • Flint’s Emergency Managers reported to the Michigan Treasury Department which, in turn, reported to Gov. Snyder.
  • Gov. Snyder set forth an agenda of cutting costs, regardless of the consequences, and the Treasury Department was responsible for helping to implement this agenda from a policy perspective. 
  • VNA made sound recommendations to the City of Flint based on all the information available to them, but they were powerless to overcome this perfect storm of failure and negligence from those in charge.