In January 2015, amid concerns about the drinking water quality in Flint, Michigan, employees at the state’s Department of Technology, Management & Budget were given coolers of bottled water on each floor of their office space. Ordinary Flint residents were not extended the same courtesy until a year later.
Documents from the organization Progress Michigan show emails exchanged between employees of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. “Appears certain state departments are concerned with Flint’s WQ,” one reads. Attached is a notice, dated January 7, to Department of Technology, Management & Budget workers about their new water coolers. It reads:
The City of Flint recently sent out the attached notice regarding violations to the drinking water standards. While the City of Flint state that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as public water does not meet treatment requirements.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder activated his state’s National Guard to distribute bottled water to residents almost exactly a year later. By that time, cases of lead poisoning of Flint children had dramatically spiked.