Newly released emails support allegations the state officials ignored the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
"Continuous use of the Flint River at such demand rates would pose an increased microbial risk to public health" and "an increased risk of disinfection by-product (carcinogen) exposure to public health," reads an internal email from at employee at the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality. The email was sent almost three years ago, over a year before Flint switched to the water source that would sicken its citizens and spark a national scandal.
The emails, released earlier today by the Michigan governor's office, show that state officials were aware of the health risks well in advance of their decision to save money by moving to a local water source.
In fact, the water switch lead to the exact consequences outlined in the emails. As Brian Palmer writes:
Neither Flint's treatment facilities nor its personnel were prepared to assume those responsibilities. In the summer of 2014, soon after the switch to the Flint River, the city faced a coliform bacteria outbreak in its water. Flint mismanaged its response then too. The "fix" caused a surge in the concentration of carcinogenic trihalomethanes.
As we learn more about the situation in Flint, it's clear that officials deliberately misled the public. And while the situation in Flint is dire, the problem of contaminated water is national, as Jared Keller describes:
Aging pipes, which result in an estimated 240,000 water main breaks every year, are outright killing us: A 2015 report from the American Water Works Association found that "up to 96 million Americans could be found to be drinking water with unsafe levels of lead."