This post was updated August 13 at 9:45am with additional information from the MDEQ.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency wrote a letter to Flint mayor Karen Weaver Wednesday expressing support for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's decision to issue an Administrative Consent Order. The ACO is a document that identifies problems that still exist in regards to the city’s water safety and sets deadlines for the city to fix its remaining issues.
Weaver has been dissatisfied with the way the state has handled the Flint water crisis so far. According to The Detroit News, Weaver originally opposed the ACO when it was sent to her in June. She said she could not be forced to sign it, even challenging the DEQ to take the matter to court.
Through this week's letter, the EPA has essentially sided with the DEQ.
“I hope that the City and State can resolve the ACO issue, so the parties can focus on resolving the rest of the sanitary survey deficiencies,” says the letter, which is signed by Lisa Holst, acting director of the EPA’s water division.
But the letter might not make that much of a difference in the situation, considering Flint spokeswoman Candice Mushatt says the city has already been negotiating the terms of the order with the DEQ since June 15th.
On June 27th, the city responded to the original document and asked the agency to eliminate some of the items they felt they'd already fixed. Mushatt says the DEQ then told the city they would review the changes. That was on June 28th.
“And we are still waiting to hear from the MDEQ regarding the removal,” Mushatt says.
In response to the letter, the DEQ sent Michigan Radio a statement saying, “The DEQ looks forward to working with the City of Flint to assist them with their responsibilities in ensuring that they continue to provide quality drinking water to the residents of Flint.” They also said they anticipate their revised version of the ACO will be sent to the city for review later this week.