DETROIT (WWJ) – Days after Michigan’s auditor says state officials should have required the city of Flint to treat its water for corrosion earlier but didn’t purposely mislead federal regulators – more changes at DEQ and more pressure from within the congress.

The head of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources will temporarily become the state’s top environmental regulator with Gov. Rick Snyder announcing Wednesday that Keith Creagh will replace Dan Wyant the Department of Environmental Quality on an interim basis. Wyant resigned as DEQ chief after a report on Flint’s water crisis put the blame on the agency.

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“There was incompetence, at the very least, there was incompetence,” said Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint.

Newsradio 950’s Jon Hewett looks back at those who spoke out against the state of Michigan’s response — or, lack thereof — to the crisis.

Kildee says it could be much worse than incompetence as the Snyder administration seemingly went out of their way to distance themselves and discredit the ones who brought forth the early findings of elevated lead levels in the Flint’s drinking water.

“It’s hard to not conclude that the people who are responsible for one of the most fundamental aspects of a civil society seemed more consumed by whether or not they were going to look bad than actually doing their job,” he said.

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The problem originated when officials decided to use water from the Flint River, but neglected to add a corrosion inhibitor to the system. At the time, officials estimated the cost of buying water from Detroit this year at $16 million, and the overall annual cost of switching to the new Karegnondi Water Authority would be $12.5 million.

One of those credited with forcing the state to acknowledge the existence of the high lead levels in the city’s water supply was Dr. Mark Edwards of Virginia Tech University.

“An unlikely coalition came together – in spite of and not because of – the agency whose job is to protect us,” said Edwards.

“Over all of this time, Flint residents have been exposed to this hazard without the protection of what’s supposed to be in federal law, which is a corrosion control program to keep lead low in the water supply. So, the lead problem’s been going on ever since the switch,” Edwards said.

 

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