Flint officials warned of major problems with water plant before going ahead with switch

Genesee County Drain Commissioner Division Manager John O'Brien testifies during a hearing on Monday. (Photo Credit: Drew Moore/WEYI)

The preliminary exam for four Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees picked up again in Genesee County Court on Monday.

Stephen Busch, Michael Prysby, Liane Shekter-Smith, and Patrick Cook are all facing numerous charges for their alleged role in causing the Flint Water Crisis.

Genesee County Drain Commissioner’s Division Director John O’Brien testified that he, along with other drain commission officials, tried to raise concerns with city official in early 2014. O’Brien testified there was equipment necessary to produce clean water at the plan that was either missing, or not working properly.

He raised those concerns with state appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Early, former Mayor Dayne Walling, former Finance Director Jerry Ambrose, and then Public Works Director Howard Croft.

During that meeting O’Brien says Early, after checking with the other city officials, said the city will move forward with the switch to the river.

O’Brien also raised the issue of how capable most of the workers at the water treatment plant were to correctly treat water, saying many of the employees there had just been transferred to the water plant from the city’s solid waste division.

“They came from the garbage hauler. Two weeks before that they were all riding shotgun in a garbage truck,” O’Brien says.

The case will pick back up again on Friday, February 9.


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