What others are saying about Flint, the response


The Flint water crisis continues to garner attention across Michigan and beyond. A look at what’s being published about Flint and broader questions of drinking-water safety, public health and environmental protection.

Edwards credits Snyder

Dan Foley on Flint’s WFTN 1470: “Marc Edwards (the Virginia Tech engineer who helped expose the contamination) does not support the recall of Gov. Rick Snyder. When he read the emails they obtained through FOIA, he said his ‘faith in politicians’ was ‘affirmed,’ mentioning Snyder and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling specifically: ‘I’ve gotta say, I have been pleasantly surprised by the former mayor and your current governor for accepting more than their share of blame for what has happened here, and getting on the same page trying to get help to Flint residents.’ He also said, ‘I have been very impressed by the governor.’ Edwards primarily blames officials at MDEQ and EPA for this public health emergency in Flint. ‘Good people are being destroyed at these agencies and weak cowards are being promoted and keep their jobs.’ ”

Will anyone be prosecuted?

Jane. F. Barret in New Republic: Criminal provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act are very limited. The only criminal provisions even arguably related to the facts of this case are the ones that prohibit tampering with, or attempting to tamper with, a public drinking water system. However, there are numerous, traditional federal criminal statutes, known as Title 18 offenses, that may apply. Specifically, prosecutors will likely evaluate if any person submitted false statements; obstructed EPA’s ability to perform its duties; destroyed, altered or falsified records in an investigation; or conspired to do any of the above.

How lead got in the water

Michael Torrice in Chemical and Engineering News: The treated Flint River water lacked one chemical that the treated Detroit water had: phosphate. “They essentially lost something that was protecting them against high lead concentrations,” says Daniel Giammar, an environmental engineer at Washington University in St. Louis. Cities such as Detroit add orthophosphate to their water as part of their corrosion control plans because the compound encourages the formation of lead phosphates, which are largely insoluble and can add to the pipes’ passivation layer. ... Flint didn’t use orthophosphate despite a recommendation to do so from Veolia, an environmental services company that studied the quality of the treated Flint River water after the switch over. In a March 2015 report, Veolia suggested that the city spend $50,000 annually to add the corrosion inhibitor. ... The entire Flint water crisis could have been avoided if the city had just added orthophosphate.

Water crisis beyond Flint

Jo Miles and Mary Grant on commondreams.org: Cities across the country have aging pipes, and while spectacular mismanagement in Flint has worsened their situation, costly repairs are needed in many places to keep the water safe.

This is the time for the federal government to take action and provide the funding that our community water systems desperately need, but the Obama administration has failed to do so. In fact, the budget Obama delivered to Congress on Tuesday cuts the main source of federal funding for our water infrastructure by 11 percent. This is the latest in a long history of such cuts: federal funding for water infrastructure has been cut back by 74 percent since 1977.

What’s gone right in Flint

Arthur Delaney in the Huffington Post: The Flint fallout unfolded dramatically differently than a similar crisis more than 10 years ago. Between 2001 and 2004, toxic water poisoned potentially tens of thousands of Washington, D.C., children. But officials there said nobody got hurt and questioned whether lead poisoning through water was even possible — and they basically got away with it. ... Instead of continuing to downplay concerns, Michigan has acted to distribute bottled water, filters and funds for extra school nurses and case management for children at risk of elevated blood lead levels. This week, Snyder proposed additional spending for the future nutritional and educational needs of the roughly 9,000 Flint kids younger than 6.