michigan department of environmental quality

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In Flint, we know lead has leached from water pipes, called service lines. But it’s not as clear how much the plumbing in people’s homes is contributing to the problem.

“There were no lead service lines to any of the schools and yet there was a significant amount of lead in a number of the samples,” said George Krisztian, who’s coordinating the state’s response in Flint for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“So the question was, 'OK, where is the lead coming from?” Krisztian recalls.

Flickr user David Salafia/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is advising schools to test their water for lead, even though it’s not required. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality wants schools to take action, even if lead levels are below the federal standard.

The federal action limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Governor Rick Snyder would like to see Michigan have an even stricter standard; 10 ppb.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There was a probable cause hearing today for the eight defendants charged by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in the Flint water disaster. What does that mean, and how does today's hearing fit into the legal process?

Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning joined Stateside to provide some answers.

For starters, what is a probable cause conference?

Gov. Snyder office

This week…a state senate committee holds a hearing on Governor Snyder’s pick to head the Department of Environmental Quality.  

Heidi Grether is a former oil and gas industry lobbyist.  That doesn’t sit well with Mike Berkowitz. He’s the Sierra Club’s legislative and political director.

There’s a new chief for the embattled state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) but the effort to restore confidence to the agency that was a huge part of the Flint water crisis is off to a rocky start.

Virginia Tech

The head of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality says the agency will be taking a much closer look at how cities across the state are testing for lead in water this summer.

MDEQ interim Director Keith Creagh says his agency will ask the state’s 1,400 water systems tough questions about how and where they’re testing for lead.

Creagh says DEQ will ask cities to prove they’re testing for lead at the right homes, particularly those with lead service lines.

(l to r) Joel Beauvais, Office of Water, EPA - Keith Creagh, Director, MDEQ - Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech - Lee Anne Walters, former Flint Resident
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The head of Michigan’s environmental regulatory agency says he won’t take any more administrative action against state employees involved in the Flint water crisis until the criminal cases against them are resolved.

In January, interim director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality Keith Creagh asked Michigan State Police to investigate employees in his department.

The report was finished in March, but it hasn’t been released to the public yet. A request for the report under the Freedom of Information Act is pending.

DTE Energy

Michigan’s US Senators want the Environmental Protection Agency to step in if the state doesn’t act on a plan to curb Wayne County air pollution soon.

In a letter to EPA head Gina McCarthy Friday, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters urged “swift completion” of that plan.

In 2013, part the county was found to be in “non-attainment” with new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was supposed to submit a plan to fix that to the EPA in April 2015. But to date, MDEQ still hasn’t done that.

Andrew Steiner / Feeding America West Michigan

Michigan is boosting efforts to provide healthy food to Flint residents amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it's awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Andrew Steiner says they knew there was a food processor north of Grand Rapids willing to donate frozen produce; squash, blueberries, cherries, asparagus and more.

“The amount of food that Arbre Farms was able to donate was actually more than we were able to handle,” Steiner said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Because of the Flint water crisis, the U.S. EPA wants more transparency about where the nation’s lead lines are. Specifically, the EPA wants to know how many lead service lines there still are underground, and they want to know exactly where they are. As we reported Tuesday, many Michigan cities do not know this basic information, it’s not just Flint.

The EPA also wants water systems to post the results from water tests to prove cities are in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

This week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave the feds an update on these requests.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state is now recommending that cities avoid replacing only part of a water service line if it's made of lead. Partial replacements aren’t uncommon.

Typically the municipality only owns part of the line, the part from the water main to the property line. This is the publicly owned portion of the service line. In this case, the part of the line that runs from the public right of way into a home is the privately owned portion of the line.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined a number of concerns in a letter to Flint and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Two of these lingering issues were deemed “critical” or “significant.” 

Those have to do with the city’s comprehensive plan to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water and “inadequate number of qualified personnel” at the city’s water department.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking all water systems to come up with plans to find and replace lead pipes in their communities, even the portions of water service lines that are on private property, which are traditionally the responsibility of the homeowner.

Watch the Flint task force reveal its final report

Mar 23, 2016
Flint Task Force member Chris Kolb at the podium during the press conference. Kolb is the president of the Michigan Environmental Council.
Livestream screen grab

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force released its final report on the Flint water crisis this morning at 10:30 a.m.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder joined Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy today to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington today. This was the third Flint water hearing by this House panel.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes tells us that of all the people the panel has questioned, Snyder has come the closest to admitting and accepting his mistakes.

flickr user Bart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An audit of the unit within Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality that’s responsible for making sure water systems are following drinking water regulations declares the state’s oversight is “not sufficient.”

The report was released Friday morning by the Michigan Office of Auditor General.

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been two months since the former head of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality resigned. Dan Wyant resigned after a task force placed much of the blame for the Flint water crisis on the MDEQ.

Now, a coalition of environmentalists is urging the governor to appoint someone who’ll make human health the department’s top priority.

A week ago I mentioned that Jordan Development, a major oil and gas exploration company based in Traverse City, wanted to drill a well on a church property in Southfield.

Southfield is a well-settled, bustling middle-class suburb of 75,000, and the idea of an oil well in such a community seemed unbelievable to some.

It seemed unbelievable to me as well, so did the idea that the city couldn’t stop it.

Former Flint mayor Dayne Walling joined us in-studio to discuss the Flint water crisis
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

The Flint water crisis is complicated, and more details are being revealed nearly every day.

Dayne Walling has lived it from the beginning. Walling was the mayor of Flint from 2009 to 2015, the period of time when crucial decisions were made regarding Flint’s water supply.

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Political leaders are lining up to blast a Detroit oil refinery’s plan.

Mayor Mike Duggan was just one of the officials speaking out at a public hearing Thursday night.

Duggan threatened to sue the state if the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approves the Marathon refinery’s plan.

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A source within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirms that two employees, Liane Shekter-Smith and Stephen Busch, have been suspended for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

The Snyder administration is now in over-drive to create both the perception and the reality that the state is engaged in making rapid progress in dealing with the Flint water crisis.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees have been suspended for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

In a statement issued late Friday, Gov. Snyder’s office only identified the employees as “DEQ officials involved in Flint water testing.”

“Michiganders need to be able to depend on state government to do what’s best for them, and in the case of the DEQ that means ensuring their drinking water is safe,” Snyder said. “Some DEQ actions lacked common sense and that resulted in this terrible tragedy in Flint.”

Rep. Phil Phelps official website

A state lawmaker wants to make it a felony for state employees to manipulate data in official reports.

State Representative Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, says there’s no law on the books to punish state employees who intentionally distort data to change the outcome of an official report.   

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant has resigned because of the agency's role in the Flint water crisis.

But will more state officials resign in the near future and why does all of this matter?

Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris talks with Rick Pluta, the State Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, about Wyant's resignation.

Listen here:

  

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Preliminary findings from Michigan’s independent Auditor General give more details about the Flint water crisis.

On April 25, 2014, Flint officials toasted each other as they flipped the switch to the Flint River.
WNEM-TV

I don’t blame the governor’s press secretary for not understanding exactly who made the decision to have Flint pump its drinking water from the Flint River. It was a complicated decision making process with multiple key players that lasted at least a few months.

Back in the spring of 2013, when this decision was made, Governor Rick Snyder’s press secretary, Dave Murray, was one of “us”; a journalist working for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive.

EPA Region 5 director Susan Hedman (file photo).
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal agency will review how the state of Michigan monitors local drinking water.

Regional EPA administrator Susan Hedman says her agency will conduct an audit of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s drinking water program.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests suggest high lead levels in the drinking water at one Flint school may have a simple and inexpensive solution.

Initial test results on drinking water samples taken at Freeman Elementary showed high levels of lead in the water: 101 parts per billion or roughly six times the federal action level for lead in tap water.

Follow-up tests were conducted last month on water at four Flint schools that tested at or above the federal action level. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint say the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality needs to do more than admit mistakes in the handling of the city’s tainted water crisis.

Last week, Flint switched back to Detroit water after numerous problems with lead and other issues in the city’s drinking water. The head of MDEQ admits monitoring errors were made and a top agency official has been reassigned.    

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