State representative searching for answers in water crisis - WNEM TV 5

State representative searching for answers in water crisis

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“The residents of the city of Flint deserve better than this. They deserve to know the truth,” said Phil Phelps.

The state representative said the people of Flint need to know what exactly went into the controversial decision to switch the city over to Flint River water.

“I want to know what information about the quality and safety of the drinking water state officials knew before they OK'ed the switch to use the Flint River as their primary source of drinking water,” Phelps said.

To get those answers, Phelps, filed a Freedom of Information Act with the city and state to get documents from tests on the water.

Documents he said, should exist.

But this search still came up empty         

“Mostly all filed for an extension, but when the extension ran out, they said that these documents simply do not exist,” Phelps said.

Now he is suing, hoping to get the documents released to the public.

“I actually think that they do know quite a bit more about the safety of the quality of the water than they're letting onto right now,” Phelps said. “They seem to deny this request for the documents that, not only did they verbally tell me there was documents like this, there is articles in local newspapers around the time of the switch that officials from both the city and state acknowledge the documents and make comments about the application process.”

He said he feels that lack of openness leads many to question what the city and state officials are hiding.

“Because they are not releasing the documents, it looks very suspicious,” Phelps said.

Phelps said if the city of Flint and the state deny his request for the information again, he will seek federal help.

After this story aired on TV5, Natasha Henderson issued a statement, explaining: 

"The city of Flint is operating as permitted by the MDEQ, however the specific documents requested by Rep. Phelps do not exist. As the city's full-time back up water source during the previous contract with DWSD, the Flint River was already an approved drinking water source. The issue could be as simple as a miscommunication on what was sought by Rep. Phelps and the city is willing to meet with his office to clarify and provide more information."

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