DEQ official claims treating river water would not prevent Flint crisis


Flint Water Plant. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • Flint Water Plant.
A Michigan Department of Environmental Quality official is refuting the cause of the Flint water crisis, placing the blame of the massive lead poisoning on the Polar Vortex of 2014 and 2015 instead of his department's decision to not treat the city's water for corrosion.

Speaking at a Grand Rapids event called "Flint: What Really Happened?", Michigan DEQ Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division director Bryce Feighner claimed that treating the water would not have prevented lead from leaching from the aging pipelines. As MLive reports, Feighner claims the harsh Polar Vortex winters caused an "excessive" number of main breaks.

"You can have the most perfect, non-corrosive water in world — however you choose to define that — and if you have water main breaks, extreme velocities, changes in flow directions; it's going to strip every coating you've created off those pipes over the last several decades," he said. "This was a major cause of the event."

This is in disagreement with the general consensus. According to experts, the water crisis can be traced to the decision to switch the city's water source to the Flint River without treating the water with phosphates that would make it less corrosive. It was the DEQ that advised the emergency management-led government not treat the water.

According to MLive, Feighner is retiring on July 1 to become a pastor. Multiple DEQ officials are facing criminal charges in a criminal investigation.

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