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Watchdog to EPA: You Need to Do Better After Flint Crisis

Federal watchdog calls on EPA to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2018 2:01 PM CDT
In this March 21, 2016, file photo, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

(Newser) – A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems in the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, the AP reports. The EPA's Office of Inspector General says in a report that the agency must take steps now to be able to react more quickly in times of public health emergencies. Flint's tap water became contaminated with lead in 2014 after officials switched from the Detroit system to the Flint River to save money. Afterward, some children were found to have elevated lead levels in their blood. A whistleblower in the EPA's Chicago office warned colleagues about the crisis in early 2015 but the agency didn't act until months later. "While oversight authority is vital, its absence can contribute to a catastrophic situation," EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins says in a press release, per CNN. The EPA says it agrees with the recommendations and is adopting them. (Read more Flint water crisis stories.)

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