The people of Flint, Mich., still do not have clean water, and there does not appear to be a definite end in sight to the need for water filters and bottled water for everything from bathing to cooking more than a year after Mayor Karen Weaver called a state of emergency because of elevated lead levels in the city’s drinking water.
There have been meetings, there have been tests, there have been lawsuits and there has even been talk of a Lifetime movie starring Cher, but none of these seem to be alleviating a problem that appears to be getting more confusing and more complicated by the day.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has gone on record saying that the state should be delivering bottled water to every resident of Flint who does not have a properly installed water filter. His stance puts him on the opposite side of the fight from Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, which is trying to have the court order for water delivery dismissed.
In a court filing Tuesday, Schuette asked a federal judge to keep a November injunction in place that requires the state to deliver four cases of water per resident per week to every home in Flint that does not have a properly installed water filter.
The state claims that water delivery is too costly and that it would take resources away from finding permanent solutions to the drinking-water crisis.
Noah Hall, who represents Schuette in the case, says that the state caused the problem, so it has a responsibility to the residents of Flint.
“They deserve to be supplied with the same type of safe, reliable water that you and I and everyone else in Michigan gets through a municipal water system, and that has not been provided for two-and-a-half years now,” Hall said.
Hall says that the state is violating the federal Clean Water Act.
The case is currently in mediation.
Meanwhile, congressional Democrats are asking that the federal probe into the Flint water crisis be reopened, and that three former Flint emergency managers be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.
Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) made the request in the form of a letter to Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“We request that the committee refer former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley, Gerald Ambrose and Edward Kurtz to the Department of Justice for potential federal prosecution,” the letter said.
Cummings and Lawrence also asked that the committee be allowed to debate and vote on a motion to subpoena Gov. Snyder “to compel the production of key documents that he has been withholding from the committee for the past year, including evidence relating to his destruction of emails.”
The request for criminal referrals comes a month after Schuette charged Earley and Ambrose with criminal wrongdoing in Flint. Both were charged with false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses—felony charges—for their parts in allowing the Flint water crisis to unfold.
“As you have repeatedly pointed out, perjury, false statements and obstructing Congress are serious crimes,” the letter to Chaffez read.
MLive reports that the state Department of Environmental Quality failed to require Flint to treat water from the Flint River in order to make it less corrosive to lead in the water-transmission system and home plumbing.
State officials reportedly ignored a warning from Flint’s former utilities director in April 2014 that the city was unprepared to treat drinking water for the first time in decades when it put its water-treatment plant into full operation treating Flint River water.
In summation, the water in Flint is still contaminated, and each day, we find out just how complicit the state of Michigan was in allowing this to happen.