New emails coming to light show state officials knew there was a problem with the water in Flint months before Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency this week.
Within weeks of a state appointed Emergency Manager switching Flint’s drinking water from the Detroit system to the Flint River, residents started complaining about the taste and the smell of their water.
But state officials did not start taking serious action for a year and a half.
Now we’ve learned Governor Rick Snyder’s right hand man was sounding the alarm months before Snyder declared a state of emergency. Researchers from Virginia Tech obtained several emails through the Freedom of Information Act.
Back in July 2015, Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore told a top Michigan Department of Community Health official that he was frustrated: “I really don’t think people are getting the benefit of the doubt. Now they are concerned and rightfully so about the lead level studies they are receiving from the DEQ samples.”
Muchmore asked that the health department look at the lead problem. “These folks are scared and worried about the health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us (as a state we’re just not sympathizing with their plight).”
Other emails from July 2015 show that state health department officials knew that “there was a spike in elevated blood lead tests from July-September of 2014,” mere months after they switched the water source in April of 2014.
It’s still not clear why real action on the lead levels only started happening recently. Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore announced a month after that July email that he would retire at the end of the year. He’s going to be a Lansing lobbyist, working for a law firm.
We did reach out to Muchmore today but we were told he was not available to answer questions.