Long Before Helping Flint, Michigan Officials Were Shipping Clean Water to Their Own Workers

According to newly released emails.

City and state officials toast Flint's switch to Flint River water in April 2014.Samuel Wilson/The Flint Journal/AP


According to newly discovered emails, Michigan officials were trucking clean water to a state building in Flint in January 2015, long before they acknowledged to residents that the city had a contamination problem.

One of the emails, which were obtained by the group Progress Michigan, was sent from the state Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. It reads, “While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.”

The email was sent just days after the city sent out an advisory about high levels of trihalomethanes in its water but maintained that, for healthy individuals, the water was safe to drink. Residents had been reporting smelly, tainted water and adverse health conditions related to it since shortly after Flint switched water sources in April 2014.

Until October 2015, the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder maintained that it was unaware of high levels of lead in Flint’s water. Progress Michigan’s Lonnie Scott says the emails “blow a hole in the governor’s timeline for when they knew or started to have concerns about Flint water. They were helping state employees while telling everyone else that there was nothing to worry about.”

An administration representative was not immediately available for comment.

 

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.