Don’t get sidetracked! Switching to Flint River water is not the problem. Failure to properly treat the water before distribution is the problem!
The primary question is:
Why didn’t the Flint water plant treat the water so that it would not cause lead to be released in the water pipes?
Wait for it…… The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) (of all agencies!) told them they need not need to do so!!! This department gives the final approval for the plant water to be released to residents. I grew up in Detroit and I wanted to help prevent kids from being poisoned by the drinking water. I did research back in 1993 on the Lead and Copper Rule to help small system water suppliers in the state of Michigan comply with this rule so as to prevent lead and copper poisoning to people. My results were published in the Journal of Environmental Health. Larger water suppliers like the city of Flint should have NEVER had this problem due to the resources they have at their disposal.
The MDEQ is required to have or obtain the expertise and competency to insure public drinking water is safe. In fact, it is charged with that responsibility. Those who work there are suppose to be selected and paid to insure this! In other words, there are NO justifiable excuses. The agency’s director and spokesman resigned, but they also need to be brought up on criminal charges.
However, the blame does not stop there. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also knew about the problem and did nothing! In fact, one employee who did send an alert report about it was called a “rogue employee”! The head of the regional EPA has resigned.
(Aside: Why aren’t these people being fired instead of being permitted to “resign”?)
Even the city of Flint itself lied on its certified documents concerning lead in drinking water!
Thus, the bottom line is those charged with protecting the public from poisonous water did not value the people (adults and children) or care enough about them to do so. This is leading from the city government level all the way up through the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, those that dared to speak out about it were punished and ridiculed for doing so. This happens when you have people in charge who don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and their political colleagues.
Notice how many people and agencies with the expertise, responsibility, and authority to insure the safety of the drinking water chose not to act on the problem? Too many. This is a problem in itself. This is why this should be criminal and those in authority who did not respond should be charged with a criminal act instead of just being permitted to resign!
How to prevent this from occurring again? The only way to prevent this from occurring again is to insure you put people in positions of authority who actually give a damn about the people they are responsible for helping to protect. This will be difficult to do since such folks are usually selected based on politics instead of who is best for the public interest. We all need to become better human(e) beings.