State workers in Flint given clean water long before residents warned of hazards

water cooler

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Ten months before Gov. Rick Snyder publicly acknowledged the water from the Flint River was unsafe to drink, the state quietly supplied clean water to its workers in Flint in January 2015.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The discovery comes from a document obtained by Progress Michigan, raising more suspicions that state officials knew the water was dangerous to drink long before they acknowledged it in October 2015.

The state Department of Technology, Management and Budget sent the document in response to concerns over the water quality, installing water coolers on each occupied floor of state buildings in Flint.

Two months after installing the coolers, a Snyder spokesman was dismissive when prepping officials on how to handle a meeting in Flint about the water quality.

“It’s not like an eminent threat to public health,” David Murray, deputy press secretary for Snyder, wrote in an e-mail to state officials, including the governor.

Thousands of people have been poisoned by high levels of lead because state officials did not address complaints about the water quality for more than a year after complaints were first raised.

“It appears the state wasn’t as slow as we first thought in responding the Flint water crisis,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, a liberal group. “Sadly, the only response was to protect the Snyder administration from future liability and not to protect the children of Flint from lead poisoning. While residents were being told to relax and not worry about the water, the Snyder administration was taking steps to limit exposure in its own building.”

Gov. Snyder lied: Flint water switch was not about saving money, records show

E-mails also suggest the state Department of Environmental Quality, which long denied problems with the water, was aware of the dangers.

“Another day and another example of the Snyder administration’s lackluster response to this crisis. Worse yet, this shows that the response was not only late and so far ineffective, but it was also unequal,” Scott said. “Gov. Snyder needs to explain to the people of Flint why his administration trucked water into a state building while allowing residents to drink unsafe water.”

Snyder’s office wouldn’t respond to our questions.

On Thursday, state officials rejected two petitions to remove Snyder from office.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Thousands of people have been poisoned by high levels of lead because state officials did not address complaints about the water quality for more than a year,, woow, this is very dangerous for human survival 🙁

    Kaos Promosi | Souvenir Promosi

  • Harry Palmer

    This is now looking more and more like a criminal act on the part of Snyder’s administration.
    Anyone defending him at this point, by trying to spread the responsibility out beyond his administration (the EM and his head of DEQ, etc.,) really needs a reality check.

    • snwrider2007

      fair claim. i’m curious if the DEQ purposefully hid the information from the governor’s office or not. that’s pretty important. If people specifically kept information from the powers that be, whether that is DEQ, EPA, or people w/in Snyder’s Cabinet, that’s a key fact. That being said, it shows a systemic problem with authority and reporting within the organization, so it’s not as if there isn’t fault on those at all levels.

      • David Becker

        Not defending Snyder but you are correct. On top of that state workers being Republican or Democrat had safe water to drink. The entire government shows they are nothing but an establishment and the people are its puppets. I say get rid of them all and start over with people that are not politicians for a career. The governments is here to protect us and look out for our best interest. They have not done the job we hired them to do. Vote them all out and start a new Democrat and Republican.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      State employees get top notch everything, they do not do with out. So if there was perfectly clean, pure water, but it had a weird smell and people were not drinking it. Guess what? They would truck in water or hire absopure or culligan for that office.

      Just like all the other benefits the state workers get that most of the lower middle class working people of flint do not get, they get nice water. Think about how many people work in flint, maybe half. Of the half, TONS work jobs where they handle nasty stuff for low wages, they have nasty offices, funky chairs, bad lights, no overtime, no sick days, no personal days, no paid holidays, no benefits etc.

      You should be lived about all the people in this state who do not get paid holidays, where is the outrage?

      This is pare for the course, this is what the state does, it does not show anything, other than maybe the water looked rusty, and rusty water is fine for say farmers, working poor rural people, but not big city state workers.

      Its racist against whites if you think about it. You would never think that way because you are a racist race baiter.

  • bebow

    The toxic water wasn’t an “eminent” threat, but it was definitely “imminent.”