Despite mounds of data, despite understanding the consequences of lead exposure, Flint was allowed to pursue a reckless water treatment program with the approval of everyone from the Flint City Council to the state Treasurer’s Office and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
After an initial six-month round of testing was complete in January, results showed that the amount of lead in Flint’s water was rising, although still within what state officials say they believed were federal safety guidelines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency got involved; a memo written by an EPA water regulations manager found fault with both Flint’s water treatment and MDEQ’s water testing protocol. But nothing happened. State officials continued to insist that Flint’s drinking water was safe, even as internal documentation showed that it wasn’t.