Steve Neavling of Motor City Muckraker writes that e-mails and documents he obtained show that the governor and Flint’s emergency managers repeatedly lied about their role in the process of using the Flint River for drinking water and knew it was risky.
City officials had decided to switch to the Karegnondi Water Authority in Genesee County. But the authority was not yet ready to deliver Lake Huron water, so the Flint River was used in the interim.
On March 7, 2014, Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley wrote in an e-mail to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) that he was not interested in a short-term contract to avoid using the Flint River, despite serious concerns raised by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2012.
“There will be no need for Flint to continue purchasing water (from DWSD) to serve its residents and businesses after April 17, 2014,” Earley wrote to DWSD Director Sue McCormick.
But months later, after studies began to show dangerously elevated levels of lead from Flint River water, Earley and Snyder both claimed the emergency manager was forced to use the river because DWSD insisted it would cut off the city without a long-term contract.
“The Detroit Water and Sewer Department at the time, back last spring, said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna cut you off,’” Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfell told the ACLU.
Snyder made the same claim during his State of the State earlier this month.
The claims were untrue, according to Neavling, and Detroit's water system urgently tried to get Flint to sign a short-term contract to avoid the health dangers of the Flint River, but Earley insisted on using the Flint River and signed off on the decision.
Neavling also reports that Detroit offered Flint a deal that would have saved the city $800 million log-term, which was 20% less expensive than switching to the Karegnondi Water Authority.