According to a recent news article, Bryce Feighner, director of the Michigan DEQ Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division, pointed to a number of water main breaks as the potential cause of Flint’s water crisis instead of the improper treatment of the city’s water.
“It was surprising and unfortunate to hear Bryce (Feighner), someone who has been in Flint for months to assist the City in the recovery of the water crisis, make the remarks he made while speaking at a conference at Grand Valley State University last week,” said Weaver in a May 1, 2017 statement. “I feel it is disappointing, damaging and also irresponsible for an MDEQ official to say that ‘hype’ hurt the people of Flint even more than the water crisis itself.”
Feighner shared his thoughts on the Flint water crisis during a April 27, 2017 conference in Grand Rapids titled, “Flint: What Really Happened?”
In 2014, Flint switched water sources under the leadership of a state-appointed emergency manager. In 2015 it was reported that Flint children had elevated blood lead levels since the city switched from using Detroit for its water to the Flint River.
Since then, experts have pointed to the city’s switch and the lack of properly treating the water as the blame for Flint’s water crisis.
“All of the studies I have seen show the main cause of the water crisis was indeed the switch to the Flint River without the proper corrosion control being in place,” Weaver said. “It’s puzzling to hear Bryce all of a sudden dispute that.”
Federal, state and local officials have been working to regain the trust of the Flint community by hosting town hall meetings, sending out various communications and working to be transparent with information.
Weaver said Feighner’s statement is a step in the wrong direction to regain that trust.
“People often ask me, ‘How do we rebuild the residents’ trust?’ Well, statements like this made by a government official that goes against everything so many have been working toward based on facts presented by scientists and other experts, certainly doesn’t help,” Weaver said.