LANSING, Mich. – Recently released documents show a top aide to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder warned the state in July that Flint residents who were worried about high lead levels in their drinking water were “basically getting blown off.”
Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore made the comment in a July 22 email to an official with the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The email, which does not contain Muchmore’s name, was obtained through an open records request by Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University.
The environmental engineering professor has investigated high lead levels in Flint’s public water system and posted the email online Thursday.
Snyder spokesman Dave Murray confirmed that Muchmore wrote it after meeting with Flint community leaders.
The city had switched from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money, and did not reverse its decision until October.
Gov Snyder declared a state of emergency for the Flint area earlier in week as concerns grew about the health effects of lead-tainted water there.
His order came on the day federal officials announced an investigation of the contamination.
Flint, which had long received water from Lake Huron provided by Detroit’s water utility, began drawing its water from the Flint River in 2014 in an effort to save money while a new pipeline was built.
Residents soon complained about rashes and strange odors from the river water. Last year, elevated levels of lead were found in children’s blood, and in October, Flint switched back to Detroit’s water system.