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Flint task force report says Gov. Snyder relied on bad information from state agencies

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force presents the findings of its final report.
Screenshot from livestream
The Flint Water Advisory Task Force presents the findings of its final report.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Task Force Co-Chair Chris Kolb (left) talks about a "failure of government", while Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) listens

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force released itsfinal report this morning. The report includes 44 recommendations. Gov. Snyder said in the press conference that the state is already working on 25 of those recommendations.

Task force co-chair Ken Sikkema said, "What happened in Flint is a clear case of environmental injustice."

One of the main findings of the report is that Gov. Snyder relied on bad information from MDEQ and MDHHS:

The Governor’s office continued to rely on incorrect information provided by these departments despite mounting evidence from outside experts and months of citizens’ complaints throughout the Flint water crisis, only changing course in early October 2015 when MDEQ and MDHHS finally acknowledged the extent of the problem of lead in the public water supply.

Here are the major takeaways:

  • MDEQ bears primary responsibility for the water contamination in Flint.
  • MDHHS's lack of timely analysis and understanding of its own data prolonged the Flint water crisis.
  • Emergency managers, not locally elected officials, made the decision to switch to the Flint River.
  • Ultimate accountability for Michigan executive branch decisions rest with the governor.
  • The Flint water treatment plant was not prepared to operate full time.
  • The emergency manager law in Michigan needs to be reviewed.

Co-chair Chris Kolb noted that interviews were voluntary and individuals were not under oath.
Kolb said the report has three purposes: to clarify the roles of the parties involved and assign accountability, highlight government failures, and provide recommendations to make sure this kind of crisis never happens again.

"The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction and environmental injustice," said Kolb.  He went on to say it is also a story of something that did work: citizen engagement and protest, knowledgeable experts who came forward, and a free press that utilized the tools that enable investigative journalism.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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