Michigan Governor's Flint Task Force Releases Report On Water Crisis

Mar 23, 2016
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

State government is primarily responsible for Flint, Mich.'s lead-contaminated water system. That's the finding of a new report released today. It comes from a task force appointed by the governor. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports it's no surprise that the state's environmental regulators get most of the blame.

LINDSEY SMITH, BYLINE: A preliminary version of this report led to regulators' resignations back in December. It was those regulators who told Flint not to treat the water to prevent lead from leaching from old pipes. The task force's Chris Kolb said that just defies common sense.

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CHRIS KOLB: It's unimaginable that anyone would come to that conclusion.

SMITH: But the group also put some of the blame on a state law aimed at saving cities like Flint from financial collapse. The report says the emergency manager law allowed nagging water problems to turn into a full-blown crisis. Flint residents demanded the city switch back to the Detroit water system after problems became apparent. Elected city leaders agreed, but were powerless at the time because of the emergency manager law. Emergency managers ignored and even criticized the city leaders. The task force did not investigate legal liability for the crisis. That's being handled by Michigan's attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice. For NPR News, I'm Lindsey Smith. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.