Mayor Weaver alleges state 'retaliation' in Safe Drinking Water Act notice

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FLINT (WJRT) (6/12/2018) - A war of words between Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality escalated Tuesday with the state filing a violation notice.

Weaver fired back, alleging the state took the action in retaliation for the city's outspoken disagreement with Gov. Rick Snyder's decision in April to cut off the supply of free bottled water for residents.

The Department of Environmental Quality sent Weaver a letter on June 4, calling for Flint to enter an administrative consent order requiring the city to correct a number of deficiencies related to its water system.

The state's letter listed issues uncovered during a detailed 2017 study of Flint's water distribution system and water department operations.

Weaver responded with a lengthy letter denying an administrative consent order was necessary and pointing out the city has corrected or is working on all of the issues.

However, state regulators filed a notice under the Safe Drinking Water Act on Monday, alleging Flint hasn't moved fast enough to correct the water system problems.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Weaver said Flint has worked collaboratively with state and federal officials to recover from the water crisis, which happened while the city was under direct state oversight.

She pointed out the city has replaced nearly 6,500 lead water service lines, signed a long-term water supply contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, hired a cross-connection manager and planned for long-term upkeep on the water system.

"Now, the state wants to force the city to 'consent' to an administrative order that serves no purpose except to expose us to additional penalties," Weaver said.

She questioned the Department of Environmental Quality's timing for requesting an administrative consent order soon after her vocal opposition to the end of state-funded bottled water.

Weaver also believes the proposed consent order "is just another bullying tactic used by the state to retaliate" like how the state canceled Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee meetings after she threatened a lawsuit over the end of bottled water supplies.

"I hope that the state will withdraw this notice and resume the collaborative efforts that have gotten us this far," Weaver said. "However, the city’s legal counsel will be prepared to respond as required.”