The Flint water crisis has become a criminal case, with two state regulators and a city employee charged with official misconduct, evidence-tampering and other offenses over the lead contamination that alarmed the country and brought cries of racism.So, just to make that clear. The problem was not high levels of lead in the water used, the problem was the chemistry of the new water caused the leaching of lead from old lead based plumbing already present in the system, that had not been present previously in the Detroit water source they used previously. If they had properly treated the water with phosphates to passivate the lead and raised the pH, it would not have been a serious problem.
For nearly 18 months, the poor, majority-black city of 100,000 used the Flint River for tap water as a way to save money — a decision made by a state-appointed emergency manager — while a new pipeline was under construction. But the water wasn't treated to control corrosion. The result: Lead was released from aging pipes and fixtures as water flowed into homes and businesses.
Michael Prysby, a former district engineer with the state Department of Environmental Quality, and Stephen Busch, a supervisor in the department's drinking water office, were charged with misconduct, conspiracy, tampering with test results and misdemeanor violations of clean-water law. The felonies carry maximum penalties of four to five years in prison.But were they told it was needed? I assume these are life time political appointees, and don't know jack shit about drinking water treatment, only how to navigate the political minefields. They could only do what they could with the evidence they were given.
Among other things, they were accused of failing to order anticorrosion chemicals added to the water to coat the pipes and prevent them from releasing lead.
Flint utilities administrator Michael Glasgow, who oversaw day-to-day operations at the city's water plant at the time, also was charged Wednesday with tampering with evidence for allegedly falsifying test results and with willful neglect of duty.Tampering with the evidence and falsifying the tests is another matter. If true, they deserve the jail time.
Busch and Prysby pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. Both were suspended without pay. Their attorneys did not immediately return calls seeking comment.