Avoiding Flint’s Poisoned Water Crisis Would Have Cost Less Than $100 a Day

© Flickr / Petras GagilasWater in a sink
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The lead poisoning of Flint, Michigan could have been avoided, for far less than you might imagine, but officials chose to allow toxic water to flow into residents’ homes instead. The irony? The crisis stemmed from the city’s attempt to save money.

Officials Lied to Flint Inmates, Forced Them to Drink Poisoned Tap Water - Sputnik International
Officials Lied to Flint Inmates, Forced Them to Drink Poisoned Tap Water
At the Congressional hearing over the crisis, Representative Justin Amash calmly laid into those who testified, explaining that while the state spends $33 million on its Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign, it has only spent “$28 million to make sure the people of Flint have pure water."

Amash managed to get the disturbing truth from one of those testifying, however: Virginia Tech Environmental and Water Resources Professor and Water Interagency Coordinating Committee member Marc Edwards.

“We know that not enough phosphates were added to the water to make it less corrosive,” Amash began. “What’s the cost of treating the water with the appropriate amount of phosphates?”

“When the switch was made, there was actually no phosphate added at all. No corrosion control. Federal law was not followed,” Edwards stated.

“No phosphates at all?” Amash interrupted.

“Nothing. Had they done the minimum allowable under the law, which would have been to continue the phosphate dosing — which in Detroit water, it would’ve cost $80 to $100 a day.”

Confused, Amash asked whether adding phosphate would typically be a normal step.

“It’s the law,” Edwards replied. “You have to have a corrosion control plan, and that’s why we have the law.

“This disaster would not have occurred if the phosphate would have been added — and that includes the legionella likely outbreak, the red water that you see, the leaks… In general, corrosion control, for every dollar you spend on it, you save ten dollars. But in Flint’s situation, for every dollar that they would’ve spent on it, they would’ve easily saved $1,000.”

“So, my only explanation is that it probably did start innocently in the chaos of the turnover, and someone simply forgot to follow the law.”

Noticeably absent from the hearing were precisely those officials who dropped the ball, including Governor Rick Snyder and former Emergency Manager Darrell Earley.

It has been revealed that many officials, including several in the US Environmental Protection Agency and the governor’s office, knew the water was poisoned as early as April 2015, but took no action, and failed to warn the community.

FILE - Vehicles drive through downtown Flint, Mich., on Jan. 21, 2016. From its founding, Flint's fortunes essentially were entwined with a single industry. First it was the fur trade, which shifted to lumber, which gave way to the horse carriages that led to it being called Vehicle City. It was a fitting moniker for its next, most important role, as a powerhouse of auto manufacturing and the original home of General Motors. - Sputnik International
Official Behind Flint’s Water Crisis Resigns, Won't Testify Before Congress

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Darnell Earley, who served as Flint's emergency manager from September 2013 until January 2015, not only refused to testify at the hearing, but he also resigned from his current post on Tuesday, effective February 29.

Governor Snyder was reportedly not called to testify, despite a letter signed by the 18 Democrats on the committee to Chairman Jason Chaffetz demanding that he call upon the governor to be present.

The FBI has joined the US Postal Inspection Service, the US Environmental Protection Agency's Office of the Inspector General, and the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, into the wide-ranging criminal probe of the Flint water crisis, to determine which laws were broken and who broke them in the poisoning of the city.

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