MDEQ bears brunt of blame in Snyder's emails

Posted at 10:13 AM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 10:13:45-05

Governor Rick Snyder sent and received hundreds of emails about the Flint water crisis and, in a rare move of transparency, volunteered to release them all to the public.

There are major investigations under way, but Snyder stands by the claim that he was slow to address the problem because other departments didn't communicate it quickly and accurately.

"Let me be perfectly clear to all of state government, in situations like this, they must come to my desk immediately. No delays, no excuses, period," the Governor said at his State of the State address Tuesday.

In many of the emails, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) gets the brunt of the blame.

"In July 2015, my office proactively asked about the quality of Flint's water, test results, and blood testing," Snyder said. "The DEQ told us that Flint was in compliance with the lead and copper rule, they told us there was one concern with one house that was corrected and there was nothing standard to address."

One problem, the Office of the Auditor General found the EPA asked the MDEQ what kind of corrosion control system it was using in Flint, and the department said it had "an optimized corrosion control program in place."

They meant they were testing the water for lead and copper levels, not treating it. But they weren't clear about it, and the EPA did not ask follow up questions. That was in February.

It wasn't until October 18th that then MDEQ Director Dan Wyant admitted in an email to Snyder, "I believe now we made a mistake." He said corrosion treatment was required from the beginning. Wyant resigned two months later.

The last email Snyder released is a report from the Flint Water Task Force. While it says other people had a part in it, "We believe the primary responsibility for what happened in Flint rests with the MDEQ."

To check out the full file of emails for yourself, click here.