Watchdog says EPA delayed Flint emergency order

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2016, file photo, the Flint River is shown near downtown Flint, Mich. Flint's water became contaminated with lead when the city switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save the financially struggling city money. Darnell Earley didn't come up with that plane, which caused a health emergency. And he certainly can't be blamed for the Detroit school system's decaying facilities and wrecked finances, which have prompted teacher boycotts this month. But the 64-year-old budget expert was in charge of Flint's city government and the Detroit schools at key points in their recent turmoil, and that has made him a focal point of anger about Gov. Rick Snyder's use of "emergency managers" to temporarily run public entities in Michigan that are hopelessly in debt. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2016, file photo, the Flint River is shown near downtown Flint, Mich. Flint's water became contaminated with lead when the city switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save the financially struggling city money. Darnell Earley didn't come up with that plane, which caused a health emergency. And he certainly can't be blamed for the Detroit school system's decaying facilities and wrecked finances, which have prompted teacher boycotts this month. But the 64-year-old budget expert was in charge of Flint's city government and the Detroit schools at key points in their recent turmoil, and that has made him a focal point of anger about Gov. Rick Snyder's use of "emergency managers" to temporarily run public entities in Michigan that are hopelessly in debt. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog says the EPA had the authority and enough information to issue an emergency order to protect residents of Flint, Michigan, from lead-contaminated water as early as June 2015 – seven months before it declared an emergency.

Inspector General Arthur Elkins says the Flint crisis should have generated “a greater sense of urgency” at the EPA to “intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised.”

Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city of 100,000 north of Detroit was under state control at the time.

Regulators failed to ensure water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.

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