Breaking down the Snyder-Flint water emails

Two years of emails were released by Gov. Rick Snyder regarding the Flint water crisis.

- The emails released Wednesday by Gov. Rick Snyder mainly focus on what he and his people were going to do after the scandal broke.

The majority of the emails were dated from early September of 2015 - and later. What the emails don't show is when the governor was made aware of the elevated levels of lead showing up in Flint's children.

So, what they do they show? Politics is a nasty business.

Perhaps the most revealing email is sent to Snyder from his Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore on Sept. 25.

He calls Flint water "a challenging topic." The Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Children's Services says some in Flint are turning the children's exposure to lead into a political football. 

He goes on to say he can't figure out why the state is responsible except that former state treasurer Andy Dillon "made the ultimate decision, so we are not able to avoid the subject."

He blamed the city county and KWA - the Karegnondi Water Authority.

Now let's back-track: In an email dated Feb. 1, 2015 from his deputy press secretary - the governor was told about a planned event in Flint to tout a $2 million federal grant - and it gave the governor a heads-up about the "entire water issue from DEQ."

At this point - lead wasn't yet an issue. The email goes on to say it's high-profile with "residents complaining about the color, taste and smell of the tap water since a switch to the Flint River."

It says the governor and Flint Mayor Dayne Walling "had a telephone conversation and the mayor has pledged to work together on solutions." And, that Representative Sheldon Neeley has "sent the governor a letter, saying that his constituents are on the verge of civil unrest."

This is where the DEQ comes in, saying they were detecting high levels of TTHM - total trihalomethanes - which the DEQ claims is a chronic health threat measured in *decades* - but TTHM in Flint is not a top health concern.

Then there's this - the DEQ admits folks in Flint are concerned about the taste, smell and color of their water but aesthetics are not regulated.

The DEQ's points? One - it's the Flint River, which will give a "different flavor and feel." And they say "it's why General Motors suspended use of Flint water - it was rusting their parts."

This should have been a red flag. The water was rusting GM's parts -- but safe to drink?

The DEQ's second point? "The system is old."

And three - Flint is old, meaning the pipes in the homes are aging. The DEQ goes on to say the water is tested rigorously.

On Oct. 13, the chief of staff forwarded a water quality report to the governor  from March. The report originally went to Flint's emergency manager and it was conducted by an independent company.

Their review showed compliance with state and federal water quality regulations but warned about the aging infrastructure.

And here's where we get to the "cover your back" emails:

The head of the DEQ, Dan Wyant, told the governor on Oct. 18 of this year "our staff believed they were constrained by two consecutive six-month tests. We followed and defended the protocol. I believe now we made a mistake."

Wyant made this admission a day before a Detroit News article was published about the Flint water crisis.

And this is where the DEQ is blasted, in this email to the agency's spokesman, Brad Wurfel: "It appears DEQ staffers have essentially downplayed or ignored warning signs from EPA's water expert, Miguel Deltoral. His emails dated Feb. 27 lays out exactly what's come to pass."

The head of the DEQ left his position at the end of the year and we should mention - the spokesman for the DEQ - Dan Wurfel - was married to the governor's spokesperson - Sara Wurfel.

They have both since resigned.

Read the emails below.

Gov. Snyder Flint emails by David Komer


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