Volunteers distribute bottled water to Flint residents.

Image: Volunteers distribute bottled water to Flint residents | ThinkProgress

At least now there’s some accountability. Criminal charges against three people involved in the poisoning of Flint’s people through its water have been drawn, beginning what will hopefully be a larger movement to prosecute those responsible. Michigan Attorney Bill Shuette announced 13 felony charges and five misdemeanors against Mike Glasgow, Stephen Busch, and Mike Prysby. They could face years in prison if they’re convicted.

Glasgow, Flint’s laboratory and water quality supervisor; Prysby, an official within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and Busch, former MDEQ Lansing district coordinator for the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, are all facing criminal prosecution. The three of them are directly responsible—though certainly not solely—for aiding in the crisis now consuming the city.

Flint’s water was changed over from the Detroit water system to using water from the Flint River in April of 2014, but after the water was not treated correctly to keep chemicals like lead from getting into the water supply, residents began to get very sick. Nothing happened until October 2015, when Rick Snyder changed the water back to the Detroit system and declared a state of emergency. Thousands of people are having to drink water from donated bottles. Children sickened with lead poisoning have experienced numerous health problems.

It is believed that Michigan provided falsified reports about the level of chemicals in the water. Homes most at risk, those with lead service lines, were not tested on the level with federal requirements.

Shuette urges that these charges “are only the beginning” of what is likely to be a long, exhaustive investigation. Perhaps even Gov. Snyder won’t escape the calamity. Nakiya Wakes, a Flint resident, believes the tainted water caused her to have two miscarriages. “I won’t rest until the governor is charged,” she said. Snyder maintains that he did nothing wrong.

“Was [this situation] actually criminal? Or was it poor decision-making? And again, I’m not looking for vindication. This is about getting to the truth, getting to accountability,” he said.

Thus far, Glasgow has not yet appeared in court. Busch and Prysby have not pleaded guilty.