Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"At worst [Governor Snyder has] been lying all along and at best he's the worst manager on the planet. Under either scenario he's clearly unfit to lead our state and he should resign immediately." (Photo: Michigan Municipal League/flickr/cc)

Snyder's Advisers Knew Flint Water Was Toxic

New emails reveal that top advisers knew about problems with Flint water as far back as 2014, reinvigorating calls that 'the Governor must resign'

Nika Knight Beauchamp

Reigniting calls for Rick Snyder's resignation, emails released Friday reveal that advisers to the Michigan governor knew that Flint's water was toxic as far back as October 2014.

"My Mom is a City resident. Nice to know she's drinking water with elevated chlorine levels and fecal coliform," the governor's chief legal counsel said in an email sent just three weeks before the Republican governor's re-election, according to the Detroit Free Press.

After examining over 500 emails released by the governor's office, the Detroit News reported that "[t]wo top advisers to Gov. Rick Snyder urged switching Flint back to Detroit’s water system in October 2014, after General Motors Co. said the city’s heavily chlorinated river water was rusting engine parts."

"There's no reasonable person who can believe at this point that every top adviser to Rick Snyder knew that there was an issue, but Snyder knew nothing," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Lansing-based watchdog group Progress Michigan, in a press release. "At worst he's been lying all along and at best he's the worst manager on the planet. Under either scenario he's clearly unfit to lead our state and he should resign immediately."

The Detroit Free Press reported that Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser to Snyder, in her email argued:

[...] for returning the city to Detroit’s system drawn from Lake Huron, saying it made economic and environmental sense for an "urgent matter to fix." She cited bacterial contamination in the treated river water and reduced quality that caused "GM to leave due to rusted parts."

[...] Michael Gadola, then the governor’s legal counsel, echoed those concerns in an e-mail responding to Brader and sent to the governor’s top aides. He called the idea of using the Flint River as a drinking water source “downright scary.”

Flint "should try to get back on the Detroit system as a stopgap ASAP before this thing gets too far out of control," Gadola wrote 12 minutes after Brader's e-mail.

These revelations came just weeks after prior releases of administration emails demonstrated that the governor himself had been explicitly informed of issues with Flint's water as far back as February 2015, and that his administration had apparently attempted to suppress lead testing results of Flint water in October 2015, as Common Dreams reported.

"Without question, Snyder and his entire administration have failed Flint and the residents of Michigan," Scott said. "We knew that there was a reason the Governor was refusing to release these documents and now it is all too clear: to him Flint families weren’t as important as the bottom line on his spreadsheet. There are no more excuses and no more scapegoats. The Governor must resign."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·


Raging Wars, Soaring Hunger Put Women and Girls in Crosshairs, Warns UN

"A toxic mix of crises—conflicts, climate, skyrocketing costs, and the ripple effects of the Ukraine war—are inflicting a devastating toll on the forcibly displaced. This is being felt across the world, but women and girls are particularly suffering."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo