The criminal charges against a growing number of defendants in the Flint, Mich., water scandal should send two powerful messages to officials at all levels of government: Their primary duty is to protect their constituents, and improvements to the nation’s infrastructure are urgently needed. Flint’s water wasn’t treated for corrosiveness between April, 2014, and October, 2015, after officials switched water sources and began using the Flint River to supply homes and businesses. They didn’t treat the Flint River water to prevent lead contamination, exposing consumers to unhealthy levels of the chemical. Improper treatment of the water also was linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people. Making matters worse, when consumers began reporting illness and complained about the color and smell of the water, officials were slow to respond.
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