Monday, March 30, 2020

Michigan DEQ Director admits mistake in Flint drinking water safety

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Dan Wyant issued a statement on Monday to address the mishandling of drinking water safety in Flint.

“As details of the situation emerge, I am convinced our program staff believed they were doing their job right,” Wyant said. “As the state recognized there could be a health threat to Flint residents, we took appropriate steps. We are now embarked on an unprecedented effort to safeguard Flint residents and families with near-term, intermediate and long-term actions to protect and educate city residents.”

Wyant said the staff employed a federal protocol they believed was appropriate, but was incorrect. "The water testing steps followed would have been correct for a city with less than 50,000 people, but not for a city of nearly 100,000," he said.

Wyant also announced that he has replaced the leadership in the DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, with DEQ Chief Deputy Jim Sygo serving as interim chief.

“The Governor has called for an independent, third-party after-action review,”  Wyant said. “I have taken the step of changing leadership in the division. We are working with our federal partners and committed to being part of the U.S. EPA's effort to strengthen its Lead and Copper Rule…We will learn from this. We will make necessary changes to see to it that our program becomes a national leader in public health protection."

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Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

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