Evidence of falsified documents and allegations of willful negligence has led to federal charges against three officials related to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The state’s attorney general filed the charges today against Stephen Busch, Mike Prysby, and Mike Glasgow for their part in creating a severe public health problem that will cost billions to correct.
Months ago, investigators warned that Michigan leaders connected to the Flint water crisis could face charges as serious as manslaughter. Today Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that the two officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby, and Flint’s laboratory and water quality supervisor Mike Glasgow were charged with a variety of criminal charges, according to New York Daily News.
Flint’s tap water quality tanked after the city switched water sources in April 2014. Drawing water with high salinity from the Flint River caused water pipes to corrode, in part because utility officials opted not to employ anti-corrosion agents as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. Almost immediately, residents began complaining about the appearance and smell of the water coming from their taps, and testing revealed high levels of lead and other toxic chemicals.
Although Flint’s water is no longer coming from the river, the damage to the pipes has already been done and residents continue to experience undrinkable water. Thousands of Flint children have been recorded with high levels of lead in their blood, and the lasting results of the tragedy will not be known for many years, as lead poisoning effects sometimes take decades to reveal themselves. Holding government officials accountable for the decisions and behavior that created the situation is just one small step on the long road to remediation for Flint residents.