Long Before Helping Flint, Michigan Officials Were Shipping Clean Water to Their Own Workers

According to newly released emails.

City and state officials toast Flint's switch to Flint River water in April 2014.Samuel Wilson/The Flint Journal/AP

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According to newly discovered emails, Michigan officials were trucking clean water to a state building in Flint in January 2015, long before they acknowledged to residents that the city had a contamination problem.

One of the emails, which were obtained by the group Progress Michigan, was sent from the state Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. It reads, “While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.”

The email was sent just days after the city sent out an advisory about high levels of trihalomethanes in its water but maintained that, for healthy individuals, the water was safe to drink. Residents had been reporting smelly, tainted water and adverse health conditions related to it since shortly after Flint switched water sources in April 2014.

Until October 2015, the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder maintained that it was unaware of high levels of lead in Flint’s water. Progress Michigan’s Lonnie Scott says the emails “blow a hole in the governor’s timeline for when they knew or started to have concerns about Flint water. They were helping state employees while telling everyone else that there was nothing to worry about.”

An administration representative was not immediately available for comment.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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