Report: Failures in legal structure contributed to Flint water crisis

A new report cites failures in the state’s legal structure and 'inadequate legal preparedness' played a hand in Flint’s water crisis. (Photo: WEYI/WSMH)

FLINT, Mich. – A new report cites failures in the state’s legal structure and 'inadequate legal preparedness' played a hand in Flint’s water crisis.

The report cited shortcomings in laws related to public health, safe drinking water and emergency financial management which failed to stop or mitigate the crisis.

Among the findings in the report were how failures between differing legal frameworks and gaps in jurisdiction led to bad decision making and a lack of coordination between city, state and federal public health and environmental authorities.

The report also says the proper legal authority wasn’t used effectively to stop the crisis, pointing out the MDEQ’s lack of action and the role of the emergency manager system as key factors.

“The Flint water crisis is a terrible tragedy and an unfortunate reminder that our communities are endangered when health is not considered in policymaking. This project was undertaken to ensure that future policy decisions incorporate the lessons learned from this preventable disaster,” said Brian C. Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer, de Beaumont Foundation.

The team of attorneys also released a series of recommendations on what legal fixes could prevent other communities from going through the same problems as Flint.

In addition to the report, a public health handbook for emergency management and an emergency manager law primer were also published.

Governor Rick Snyder responded to the news of the report with continued optimism for Flint's recovery.

“There have been so many different reports with so many different answers I’ve stayed focused on improving Flint and we've seen a lot of improvement in Flint from the water quality but also economically so I’m proud to say Flint is on a positive path we just need to keep it up and help that community grow stronger and better," the governor said.

The report was released by a team of attorneys from the Network of Public Law and the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

It was paid for by the de Beaumont Foundation.

A link to the team’s publication can be found below.

Learning from the Flint Water Crisis: Protecting the Public’s Health During a Financial Emergency

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