News Release

Flint Water Crisis a “Violation of the Human Right to Water”

NBC reports: “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder refused Thursday to say when he knew the Flint water crisis — children being poisoned by lead from their drinking taps — was being mishandled. …

“Earlier this week, the Republican declared a state of emergency over the elevated lead levels — which began when Flint switched water sources in April 2014 to cut costs.

“But an internal email obtained by Virginia Tech researchers shows that the governor’s office knew months ago that Flint’s families had reason to be worried about the problem and the response.”

WENONAH HAUTER via KATE FRIED, kfried at fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
Hauter is the founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch. She said today: “Recent revelations that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration knew about severe water quality problems in Flint, Michigan and assured residents there that the water was safe are an unconscionable violation of the human right to water.

“In 2014, Flint’s emergency manager disconnected the city from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and started providing residents with water from the Flint River. Unfortunately, the proper corrosion controls were not put in place, which resulted in lead leaching into Flint’s drinking water, poisoning residents for over a year.

“To make matters worse the Snyder administration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ignored the people of Flint for months as they reported issues with their tap water. Worst of all, despite knowing that there was a problem with lead, the state kept telling residents that the water was safe to drink.

“The city now must replace thousands of lead water pipes, and its residents face a lifetime of healthcare costs. This is the very definition of a man-made, intentional, public health crisis.

“Michigan’s water problems are not limited to Flint. Highland Park and Detroit have also had problems ensuring residents access to safe, affordable water. Emergency management, an underhanded process created by the state legislature against the wishes of voters to allow the Governor to virtually take over a city, has exacerbated many of their water woes.

“Emergency management and the Snyder administration have failed these communities, first stripping them of their democracy, then their access to a basic human right. It is completely unacceptable. The Obama administration should declare a public health emergency in Flint to marshal federal resources and to help make Flint’s water safe again.” Fried is policy communications director for the group.