Faced With a Growing Public Health Crisis, Officials Refuse to Consider Switching Back to Detroit Water

  • The idea of returning to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department -- Flint's original water source -- had been repeatedly rejected by city and state officials well before and after VNA arrived on scene. Officials described a return to DWSD water as "cost prohibitive." At the same time, staff in the governor's office recognized internally that drinking Flint River water was "downright scary", and even their efforts to convince local officials to switch back to DWSD were futile given the "high costs of switching."
  • Indeed, the City of Flint had already sold the pipeline needed to reconnect to DWSD. https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2014/06/emergency_manager_accepts_39_m.html.

At the outset of VNA's work in Flint, it was similarly made clear to VNA that returning to DWSD was not an option and was "inconceivable."

  • Gerald Ambrose reminded VNA that their "charge in this project is to assess the current situation and provide recommendations to address the stated problems" and to "not be drawn into discussion" on the history or merits of the switch from Detroit Water.
  • Even before VNA had issued its final report, Flint's Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose made clear he would be rejecting DWSD’s offer to reconnect because DWSD’s offer "doesn't change the cost (or [his] mind)."

On March 23, 2015, after City Council publicly voted to "do all things necessary" to return to DWSD, Mr. Ambrose rejected the vote, again calling the idea "incomprehensible."