Documents show EPA knew about water crisis months before warning Flint residents

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FLINT (WJRT) - (01/13/16) - It has been a question asked over and over again: When did officials know there was a problem with Flint's water?

ABC12 News learned last month the state agency in charge of water oversight was alerted to the problem months before taking action.

New evidence shows the Environmental Protection Agency knew long before going public, too.

The last time we've heard from the EPA was in November, when they told us they're investigating the DEQ's handling of the water emergency.

We are learning they have actually known there was a problem in Flint since at least April, but did nothing to warn the people who were drinking the water.

It all starts with Flint mother LeeAnne Walters.

Last winter, Walters made call after call to the EPA saying her child was poisoned by lead in Flint's water.

It turns out, she was right.

In April, Miguel Del Toral, of the EPA, traveled to Flint and tested her water. He found alarming levels of lead.

He sent the report to his supervisors, stating, "Recent drinking water sample results indicate the presence of high lead results in the drinking water..."

He also pointed to zero corrosion control in Flint's water supply to prevent lead from the pipes seeping into the water.

When ABC12 News got his report in September, we emailed a spokesperson with the EPA, asking if they were going to warn the people of Flint.

They replied, "I think any questions about their drinking water still need to be referred to the Flint water utility."

At that time, the city continued telling the 100,000 people who drink the water that it's safe because that's what the DEQ said.

Del Toral's superior, Susan Hedman, says when she learned of the problem, she alerted the DEQ instead of telling the Flint residents they were at risk.

She said her hands were tied.

It wasn't until months after Del Toral cautioned EPA higher ups about the lead levels that the public was told the water isn't safe.

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