The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knew about the problems that led to Flint, Mich.’s, drinking water crisis in April of last year.
The head of the EPA’s region that includes Michigan told the Detroit News that her agency warned state officials of possible corrosion problems in April.
Those problems have now turned to an all-out emergency, since the corrosiveness of the drinking water has caused lead from pipes to leach into the water, making it harmful to drink.
Federal officials fought with Michigan since February about the problems associated with Flint’s move to get its drinking water from a river instead of Detroit, the News reported.
As state and local workers try to get bottled water and filters to Flint residents while they work to solve the lead problem, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and his administration are under fire for their role in switching the water supply.
Susan Hedman, the regional EPA head, told the News that her office pressured the state to take action on the lead problem instead of publicizing the issue or taking action themselves.
Hedman did not know what kind of action she could legally take. So she sought out a legal opinion, which wasn’t ready until November.
Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech researcher who helped uncover the lead problem and documentation about the EPA’s role, said the federal agency’s response was unacceptable.
“At that point, you do not just have smoke, you have a three-alarm fire and should respond immediately,” he told the News.