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Flint and MDEQ locked in dispute over city's water system

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

There’s an escalating dispute between Flint and state officials over issues with the city’s water system.

The dispute dates back to August 2017, when the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality informed the city of more than a dozen problems with Flint’s water system.

Recently, MDEQ stepped up its pressure on the city. Last week,the agency sent the city a letter including a proposed “administrative consent order” or ACO. The ACO contains a timetable to bring the city water system back into compliance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

This week, Mayor Karen Weaver responded. Her letter to the MDEQ countered the agency’s claims, point-for-point, insisting the city is working on the issues brought up by the MDEQ. Weaver says the proposed ACO is “unnecessary and unwarranted.”

Flint’s mayor also claims calls ACO request “a deliberate and willful misuse of the DEQs’ authority for political purposes.” In her letter, Weaver notes that the MDEQ’s request for action comes after the state ended bottled water distribution in Flint.

An MDEQ spokeswoman says the agency is reviewing Weaver’s letter.  

“Our first option is to try to work with the city on solutions in the interest of public health,” says MDEQ spokeswoman Tiffany Brown.

It’s possible the dispute may wind up before a judge.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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