A top investigator says that if officials in the US state of Michigan could face charges as serious as manslaughter, if they are found to be negligent in their handling of the lead poisoning crisis in the former industrial city of Flint.  There is mounting evidence that state officials ignored complaints of doctors and residents that lead in the drinking water was poisoning thousands of children.

In 2014, Michigan's republican Governor Rick Snyder approved from the unelected emergency manager for Flint to save US$15 Million by switching the city's water supply from clean Great Lakes water to the corrosive Flint River.  But the bad water leached lead from the aging system of pipes and sent tainted water flowing out the taps of homes, schools, and businesses throughout Flint. 

"We're here to investigate what possible crimes there are, anything (from) involuntary manslaughter or death that may have happened to some young person or old person because of this poisoning, to misconduct in office," said Todd Flood, in charge of the state investigation.  "We take this very seriously." 

The FBI and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement division launched a separate probe last week.  The says that Snyder's state government ignored federal advice to treat Flint's water for corrosive elements, and stop the lead poisoning.  Snyder says the EPA warnings were not stern enough.

But the tainted water is also associated with an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease in Flint.  And an advocacy group released documents showing the Snyder knew about that problem for nine months before acknowledging it in January.

"For months the public has been asking Governor Snyder what he knew and when he knew it regarding the Flint crisis and this e-mail shows that one of his top aides was aware nearly a year ago that county health officials were concerned that the switch to the Flint River could be potentially deadly," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.