The Impact of the Decision to Switch the Water Source in Flint on the Public, and How Government Officials Responded

  • Immediately prior to the switch, Flint Water Treatment Plant staff recognized that they had not been informed of changes to the lead and copper monitoring and warned that the plant was not ready for full time operation, but State and City officials made the decision to move forward, in large part for financial reasons.
  • From April 2014 through February 2015, the water quality issues in Flint were immediate, widely known, and frequently discussed amongst local officials, the governor's office, the MDEQ and the EPA. These discussions included boil water advisories, TTHM exceedances, and so many citizen complaints to the EPA they didn’t keep track of them.
  • The local and state officials were aware of widespread health and water quality concerns, but chose to "live with it" because it was a "huge cost savings." As the public unrest grew, on January 29, 2015 State Rep. Sheldon Neely wrote to Governor Snyder and his executive staff stating: "Residents of Flint are already finding themselves forced to take drastic measures simply to have clean drinking water...The people of Flint bring bottles of brown water full of sediment and other foreign substances to community meetings, asking only to be treated as human beings."
  • By March 2015, governor's office staff began looking into purchasing bottled water, with the MDEQ admitting that the fix for the distribution problems "will be years in the making."
  • As discovery unfolds and new documents are uncovered, one thing remains clear: state and local officials realized they made a mistake they could "hardly ignore" and they "had to fix it" by covering up to make the issues go away.