In 2012, the struggling agency brought in Veolia North America, a French corporation, to manage the city?s water supply. The same company is being sued in Michigan for allegedly failing to warn officials about lead risks to Flint?s water. After Veolia took over management of the city?s water, the chemical used to control corrosion of metals, such as lead, was changed.
Typically, it takes months for a water department to change corrosion control methods, because changes can cause lead spikes. Feasibility studies must be conducted, rounds of testing completed, state agencies notified and their approval sought. Instead, PWSA changed the corrosion control to save money in violation of state law, state authorities said (pdf).
Meanwhile, Veolia cashed in on $4.9m in performance improvement payments, according to an auditor?s report (pdf), in addition to the company?s monthly fees of $90,000 to $120,000.