The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality repeatedly gave assurances that water from the Flint River was safe, when in reality it had dangerous levels of lead, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says.

Snyder tells Congress that he did not learn that Flint’s water was contaminated until Oct. 1, 2015 — nearly 18 months after the city began drawing its water from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money.

Snyder said he took immediate action, reconnecting the city with Detroit’s water supply and distributing water filters and testing residents — especially children — for elevated lead levels.

“Not a day or night goes by that this tragedy doesn’t weigh on my mind — the questions I should have asked, the answers I should have demanded,” Snyder says in prepared testimony for a House hearing Thursday.

Ultimately, Snyder says, he wonders how he could have prevented the disaster. “That’s why I am so committed to delivering permanent, long-term solutions and the clean, safe drinking water that every Michigan citizen deserves,” he said.
Snyder will be a star witness at a hearing Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The session is the second of two Flint-related hearings the panel is conducting this week.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy also is set to testify. McCarthy faults state officials for the crisis, which occurred when Flint switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River to save money. The impoverished city was under state management at the time.

“The crisis we’re seeing was the result of a state-appointed emergency manager deciding that the city would stop purchasing treated drinking water and instead switch to an untreated source to save money,” McCarthy says in prepared testimony. “Without corrosion control, lead from pipes, fittings and fixtures can leach into the drinking water. These decisions resulted in Flint residents being exposed to dangerously high levels of lead.”

The Associated Press obtained copies of testimony by Snyder and McCarthy in advance.

Snyder, a Republican, asked to testify to Congress last month, bowing to demands by Democrats that he explain his role in a cost-cutting move that resulted in a public health emergency that has rocked Flint and caused ripples in the presidential campaign, where Democrats have called for Snyder to step down.