Michigan official: Federal water rules not followed in city's wa - WNEM TV 5


Michigan official: Federal water rules not followed in city's water crisis

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The head of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said federal rules governing drinking water weren't followed properly in Flint, where problems with lead prompted officials to declare a public health emergency.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant has admitted mistakes were made during Flint's water crisis.

"We’re recognizing today use of that protocol was a mistake," Wyant said.

Officials declared a public health emergency in Flint after problems with lead were discovered in the city's water supply from the Flint River.

TV5 went to Lansing to ask the tough questions to the DEQ about those issues it's now owning up to, after Flint has already switched back to Detroit water.

“We thought the rules were being followed and our staff believed in what they were doing and they thought they needed two different tests, but the reality is we needed to be using a different protocol,” Wyant said.

Wyant said DEQ staff used a federal protocol to test the water.

But now it turns out that protocol is not effective for cities with a population of more than 50,000 people.

"They just didn't recognize the particulars of the rule that said 50,000 and above more corrosion control is needed. We've got to build that experience with corrosion control into the staff,” Wyant said.

After acknowledging mistakes were made, the DEQ said it’s now making changes including replacing the departments municipal drinking water official.

“We are putting an interim, Jim Sygo, our chief deputy and we have an action plan that we think will bring back confidence in the Flint drinking water system,” Wyant said.

The DEQ said Sygo has 34 years of experience and he's the right guy to fill in the position for now until the department can hold a national search.

Flint reconnected to Detroit's water system Friday in hopes of resolving the health emergency spurred by a switch to river water that was aimed at saving money but left children with elevated lead levels.

The Michigan Democratic Party responded to the press release on Monday.

"The was not an issue of experience and protocol. It is a question of competency and judgment," said Brandon Dillon, party chair. "DEQ employees were not provided with the leadership and training necessary to do their jobs in this situation, and Mr. Wyant clearly lacks the judgement needed to do his."

The scathing statement from Dillon and the Michigan Democrats alleged the EPA sent warnings about Flint's water system for months directly to the DEQ.  

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