In January of 2015, when state officials were telling worried Flint residents their water was safe to drink, they also were arranging for coolers of purified water in Flint's State Office Building so employees wouldn't have to drink from the taps, according to state government e-mails released Thursday by the liberal group Progress Michigan.
A Jan. 7, 2015, notice from the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, which oversees state office buildings, references a notice about a violation of drinking water standards that had recently been sent out by the City of Flint.
"While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink," said the notice.
"The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements."
Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for DTMB, said the water coolers were provided in response to the city health notice in late December or early January, which he acknowledged was about a contamination issue the city said had already subsided. The state continued to provide the coolers of purified water, right up to today, because "there were more findings as we went along," Buhs said.
Buhs said his department never told state workers the tap water was unsafe to drink, but only provided an alternative, as a landlord would do for tenants.