Michigan governor Rick Snyder declared last week that the poisonously high levels of lead in drinking water in Flint, Michigan constitute a state of emergency. “The health and welfare of Flint residents is a top priority and we’re committed to a coordinated approach with resources from state agencies to address all aspects of this situation,” Snyder said. Reporting by Michigan Radio and research by the ACLU, though, alleges that the state government itself may have broken laws last year to cover up evidence of high lead levels that were turned up in tests it was supervising.
To recap the situation briefly: Flint has been run since 2011 by emergency managers appointed by Snyder. In 2014, to save money, the city began using the polluted Flint River as its water source. The drinking water from this new source created a number of health threats, including high levels of lead. (Lead can leech into drinking water from lead pipes.) A study released in September 2015 concluded that the change has put Flint children at significantly increased risk of lead poisoning. The city has now switched back to its old water supply, but lead levels are still high, and the state government is distributing bottled water to residents.