LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder issued an apology Tuesday as Dan Wyant, his head of the Department of Environmental Quality, resigned after a task force lead by the state's auditor general blasted the DEQ for it's role in Flint's water crisis.
The state’s mishandling of Flint’s water system ultimately exposed Flint residents to dangerously elevated levels of lead.
“I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened,” Snyder said in a statement. “And I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience.”
The governor’s apology and the DEQ head’s resignation has helped to temper concerns that no one cared about Flint said the city’s mayor Karen Weaver.
“One of the things we've always talked about is accountability and that seems to be what's happening,” said Weaver. “It also let us know here in Flint that our voice is being heard.”
Snyder’s apology and Wyant’s resignation come after the task force released their finding that the DEQ was primarily at fault for Flint’s unhealthy level of lead in their drinking water.
“Although many contributed to creating and prolonging the problem, MDEQ is the government agency that has responsibility to ensure safe drinking water in Michigan,” the task force said in a written statement. “It failed in that responsibility.”
For many Flint residents like Kim Peterson, Tuesday’s announcements do little to help them feel confident about the safety of their drinking water. Peterson says she is still hesitant to drink the water even though it is again coming from a healthy source in Lake Huron.
“I take it to mean that something was really wrong with this whole system of checks and balances,” she said.
“You don't trust it because you've heard so many conflicting things from so many different people, so we still continue to buy the water.”
Mayor Weaver, however, believes Snyder’s apology is a first step toward rebuilding trust: “This is a good step to get some things started because people had lost faith and they had lost trust.”
Snyder has promised more steps will be taken after the task force releases its final and full report.
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