DEQ Director Dan Wyant issues statement about Flint drinking water

Oct. 19, 2015

DEQ Director Dan Wyant today made the following statement as he announced DEQ Chief Deputy Jim Sygo will immediately assume the role of interim chief of the department's Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance: 

"It recently has become clear that our drinking water program staff made a mistake while working with the City of Flint. Simply stated, staff employed a federal protocol they believed was appropriate, and it was not. The water testing steps followed would have been correct for a city less than 50,000 people, but not for a city of nearly 100,000. 

As details of the situation emerge, I am convinced our program staff believed they were doing their job right. As the state recognized there could be a health threat to Flint residents, we took appropriate steps. We are now embarked on an unprecedented effort to safeguard Flint residents and families with near-term, intermediate and long-term actions to protect and educate city residents. 

The issue in DEQ is experience and protocol with respect to corrosion control. The Governor has called for an independent, third-party after-action review. I have taken the step of changing leadership in the division. We are working with our federal partners and committed to being part of the U.S. EPA's effort to strengthen its Lead and Copper Rule. 

All who brought this issue to the department deserve credit for bringing it forward. Lead is a serious issue, particularly for young people, and we take it seriously. The Governor's plan incorporates the suggestions outlined by the EPA and researchers at Virginia Tech. 

We will learn from this. We will make necessary changes to see to it that our program becomes a national leader in public health protection."