Michigan Leaders Under Fire Over Lead in Flint Water

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and several state officials are facing two lawsuits--and a barrage of criticism--stemming from their failure to take timely action when Flint residents complained that murky, foul-smelling water was coming out of their faucets after a switch away from the Detroit water system in April 2014.

The city, operating under a Snyder-appointed emergency manager at the time, made the switch to the Flint River as a water source as a way to save money. Yet the corrosive river water wasn't treated with anti-corrosive agents, and lead soon found its way into the city's water system.

Residents' complaints weren't addressed--in fact, state officials publicly stated that the water was safe -- until Virginia Polytechnic Institute researchers tested the water and found lead, and a pediatrician at a local hospital released a study showing elevated lead levels in the blood of city schoolchildren.

City residents have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court, and the Natural Resources Defense Council announced its intent to sue for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Snyder has appointed a task force to look into the matter, and the Environmental Protection Agency is also investigating.

NRDC attorney Anjali Waikar gives the Flint community credit for bringing the issue to the forefront.

By Nora Macaluso