Michigan officials were offered and declined a corrosion-control plan before Flint citizens began receiving its water supply from the Flint River in 2014, according to a report from the AP.
“You don’t need to monitor phosphate because you’re not required to add it,” Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) official Mike Prysby told Mike Glasgow, one of the city ‘s water supervisors at a meeting prior to Flint making the switch from Detroit water to Flint River water.
Glasgow told AP on Tuesday he was dumbfounded by the regulator’s comments, because, as far he knew, treating water with phosphates was routine. The consulting firm engineer at the meeting was also surprised by Prysby’s comments, Glasgow added.
Glasgow went on to say he had “misgivings” about the move at the time. “But unfortunately, now that I look back, I relied on engineers and the state regulators to kind of direct the decision. I looked at them as having more knowledge than myself.”
Glasgow said it was Prysby who told him regulations on lead and copper pollution required nearly a year’s worth of testing before corrosive controls could be implemented.
The DEQ eventually admitted Prysby was incorrect. The rules actually require water systems serving more than 50,000 people to be equipped with corrosion controls.
Flint resident Lee-Anne Walters, who discovered and later exposed the water scandal, told AP she became “nauseous” after hearing about Prysby’s instructions.
“That one meeting was the difference between this city being poisoned and not being poisoned,” she said.
Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech engineering professor, whose team tested Flint’s water and found elevated lead content, told the AP he was shocked by the regulator’s decision to forgo the tablets,
He said he has never witnessed such disregard for water treatment in the 25 years he has been lead-testing water.
“Corrosion control is the best investment a utility can make,” he said.
This admission comes just days after a task force appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released a 116 page report on March 24 showed, in pat, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was unlikely to do anything about the tainted water unless it resulted in “widespread public outrage.”
“EPA failed to properly exercise its authority prior to January 2016. EPA’s conduct casts doubt on its willingness to aggressively pursue enforcement (in the absence of widespread public outrage),” the Flint Water Advisory Task Force added.
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