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MDEQ admits to 'mistake' that lead to contamination of Flint's drinking water

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The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is now admitting they made a mistake that led to the contamination of Flint's drinking water.

Monday, the leader of the Michigan DEQ came forward.

"We need to acknowledge the DEQ made some mistakes with respect to our protocol," said Dan Wyant, Director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Last year Flint started treating the river water and using it as its primary water source. The DEQ did testing, at the time, to ensure it was safe. They still say the water coming from the plant was safe but that they didn't look close enough at the water coming from the taps.

It was just last month when doctors discovered children in Flint now have increased lead levels from drinking the water. That discovery prompted an emergency health advisory telling people not to drink the water.

"Our staff applied a protocol they felt was appropriate, it was not," said Wyant.

That protocol required the MDEQ to look at how corrosive the water was, but not until six months after the switch. Even then, the MDEQ director admits his staff, in place at the time, didn't have the expertise needed to implement corrosion control, which would have limited the amount of lead leaching into the water.

"It's unfortunate for our community that we're paying the price," said Mayor Dayne Walling, City of Flint.

The city was in the midst of a financial crisis, and under an emergency manager when this was happening. Mayor Dayne Walling says his city was relying on what the state told them.

"Clearly that information was wrong," said Walling.

Now the MDEQ says they're trying to make sure this mistake never happens again.

"We're confident the plan we have going forward addresses the issue, we're bringing technical expertise, we're bringing resources to the table, and we'll stay at it until we get it right," said Wyant.

The MDEQ says changes have been made within their office, in response to this mistake that led to contaminated water in Flint.

Mayor Walling says taking responsibility is one thing, but says he wants to see more done at the state level to help the people of Flint impacted by this, and to improve the damaged infrastructure.

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