On Wednesday, the first criminal charges were handed out in relation to the water crisis, and the astounding ineptitude and lack of accountability that fostered it. The charges are related to an ongoing investigation conducted by Michigan's attorney general's office.
Two state regulators and one Flint employee were charged with tampering evidence, among other felony and misdemeanor counts, Associated Press reports.
The charges include failure to order the proper chemical treatment of the water, which could've prevented toxic lead from leaching into the water from old pipes and fixtures.
Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby, who work at the state's Department of Environmental Quality, were charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence and violations of water treatment and monitoring laws, Associated Press reports.
Flint utilities administrator Michael Glasgow was charged with willful neglect of duty as a public servant and tampering with evidence after changing lead-water testing results.
These charges could be the first of many.
In 2014, Flint's water supply was switched from Detroit to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. But, corrosion control wasn't added to the water, and that resulted in the water being contaminated with lead.
Almost immediately, it became apparent to residents there was something wrong with the water. It tasted and looked funny, and some started to get sick. But, the state and local governments continued to deny anything was wrong and told people the water was safe.
It took prolonged public outcry and the involvement of academics and other experts for the government to admit the water in Flint was unsafe and poisoned with lead. But by that point, it was too late. Blood tests have shown high levels of lead in Flint's children. Lead poisoning can lead to ongoing health issues, including cognitive and behavioral problems.
People in Flint can still not use their water for anything, and nothing will change until the pipes in Flint are replaced. This could cost up to $55 million, but that seems a small price to pay for the safety and health of an American community.