Memo Shows Michigan Officials Ordered Bottled Water For State Employees In Flint Over A Year Ago

LANSING (WWJ) – Documents released Thursday appear to show that the Snyder administration trucked in clean water to state buildings in Flint – 10 months prior to the governor publicly admitting there was reason for concern.

A series of emails obtained by the watchdog group “Progress Michigan” show that the Department of Technology, Management & Budget sent a memo — dated Jan. 7, 2015  — advising that water coolers were being installed on each occupied floor so that state workers could choose to continue to drink Flint water, or a possibly safer alternative.

In a message in an email chain attached to the memo, Michael Prysby of the Michigan DEQ Office of Drinking Water writes: “Appears certain state departments are concerned with Flint’s WQ. I will return the call…”

[View a copy of the documents]

A spokesperson for the group says Gov. Rick Snyder needs to explain why his administration trucked water into a state building over a year ago while allowing residents to drink unsafe water.

The state, late Thursday afternoon, issued the following response to Progress Michigan’s claims:

“The Department of Technology, Management and Budget, as the manager of a building in the city of Flint and a customer of Flint water, received notice from the City regarding the ‘violation of a drinking water standard’ in January 2015. In response to the notice, DTMB provided water coolers near the drinking fountains in the Flint State Office Building to provide an option for the building tenants. The city’s notice stated referenced elevated trihalomethanes (TTHM),” the statement reads.

“Within a few weeks of this notice, the state issued a $2 million grant to Flint to help with water system infrastructure improvements. [Link].”

The city’s water is currently undrinkable after it became contaminated when Flint switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a cost-cutting move. The corrosive water lacked adequate treatment and caused lead to leach from old pipes — and there has since been much discussion about who is to blame.

In a show of transparency, Snyder last week released more than 270 pages of emails concerning the Flint water situation. He called the release of the messages — which are exempt from Michigan’s public-records law — “unprecedented” but necessary so people “know the truth.”

This particular email chain was not included.

[Latest on the Flint water crisis]

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