Facts from the courtroom
July 8, 2022

Officials rejected return to Detroit Water even after water quality issues were known in Flint

On July 7, 2022, the jury heard from Susan McCormick, the former Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) during the time of the Flint Water Crisis. Ms. McCormick was involved in negotiations with the City of Flint regarding a potential long-term water supply contract, which was rejected by government officials in favor of using the Flint River as an interim water source until the KWA pipeline could be built. 

When the water quality issues in Flint become apparent, Ms. McCormick offered to reconnect the City of Flint to DWSD at no extra cost, which would have provided residents with reliable, safe, and high-quality drinking water immediately. Yet government officials rejected this offer even after knowing of the high lead levels found in Flint. It would take thousands more residents getting sick before the City finally agreed to return to Detroit Water.

Here is what you need to know. 

Government officials rejected a return to Detroit Water even after the water quality issues were widely known in Flint. 

  • Upon learning of the issues in the press in 2015, Ms. McCormick sent a letter to Emergency Manager Darnell Early, copying Governor Snyder and the City Council, saying DWSD was “ready, willing and able” to resume service to the City at no extra charge or penalty. 
  • Ms. McCormick testified that DWSD could have easily and quickly reconnected Flint to Detroit Water as all the Department had to do was open the valves and conduct some limited flushing of the water.
  • Ms. McCormick received a letter of disinterest following her offer and testified there were no further discussions or negotiations at the time. 

Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose sought to block Ms. McCormick from discussing the offer at a Flint City Council Meeting.

  • Ms. McCormick testified that she received an invitation from a local Council member to attend a meeting in January 2015 regarding DWSD’s offer to reconnect Flint.
  • On her way to the meeting, Ms. McCormick received a call from Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose telling her she would not be part of the meeting agenda. 
  • Ms. McCormick only decided to attend the meeting when the Council member called back to request she attend anyway.
  • Upon arriving at the meeting, Ambrose again encouraged her to leave, but Ms. McCormick remained until she had the opportunity to speak towards the end of the meeting about DWSD’s offer.