The 69-page inspector general’s report said that those with responsibility for the crisis at EPA’s regional office did not sufficiently invoke their oversight authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act and, in their reluctance to act, let the crisis worsen.
As is well known by now, the crisis began in 2014 when the city of Flint changed its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Michigan officials repeatedly overlooked complaints from residents—the majority of whom are black—that the water was discolored and had a foul stench.
Behind the scenes, the EPA spent six months arguing with DEQ over whether Michigan was required to add chemicals to the water that would prevent contamination from lead in pipes and plumbing connections.
“We found that the EPA’s internal communications, and communications between the Michigan department and the EPA, did not convey key information about human health risks from lead contamination in Flint.”