snyder apology flint butted sot _00001827.jpg
snyder apology flint butted sot _00001827.jpg
Now playing
00:54
Michigan governor apologizes for water crisis
Now playing
02:42
Charges filed in Flint water crisis
flint gov snyder drinks tap water dnt _00004410.jpg
WEYI
flint gov snyder drinks tap water dnt _00004410.jpg
Now playing
01:21
Governor Snyder drinks Flint water
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, (R), and Gov. Rick Snyder, (R-MI), listen to members comments during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, about the Flint, Michigan water crisis, on Capitol Hill March 17, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, (R), and Gov. Rick Snyder, (R-MI), listen to members comments during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, about the Flint, Michigan water crisis, on Capitol Hill March 17, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
03:50
EPA administrator doesn't admit culpability in Flint
Flint Resident Lead exposure long term sidner pkg erin_00000105.jpg
Flint Resident Lead exposure long term sidner pkg erin_00000105.jpg
Now playing
02:16
Flint resident lives in uncertainty after lead exposure
Jeremy Moorhead / CNN
Now playing
02:23
Another side of Flint
obama drinks flint water lead pipes replaced sot _00000614.jpg
obama drinks flint water lead pipes replaced sot _00000614.jpg
Now playing
00:45
Obama visits Flint, drinks the water
Flint Family Diaries orig_00005901.jpg
CNN
Flint Family Diaries orig_00005901.jpg
Now playing
04:27
Families live on bottled water
flint water crisis miscarriage sidner dnt_00003127.jpg
flint water crisis miscarriage sidner dnt_00003127.jpg
Now playing
02:40
Flint resident wonders if lead caused her miscarriage
michigan flint rick snyder intv harlow ac dnt_00005308.jpg
CNN
michigan flint rick snyder intv harlow ac dnt_00005308.jpg
Now playing
05:53
Michigan governor: Flint crisis is failure in government
flint michigan water crisis origncc _00000503.jpg
flint michigan water crisis origncc _00000503.jpg
Now playing
01:05
Flint resident fighting for clean water
hillary clinton flint water crisis SOTU intv_00001913.jpg
hillary clinton flint water crisis SOTU intv_00001913.jpg
Now playing
03:55
Hillary Clinton: 'We have to help Flint'
whistleblower flint legionnaires ganim dnt ac_00014211.jpg
CNN
whistleblower flint legionnaires ganim dnt ac_00014211.jpg
Now playing
04:02
Whistleblower: State ended Legionnaires' investigation
flint water crisis lead gupta dnt ac_00031308.jpg
flint water crisis lead gupta dnt ac_00031308.jpg
Now playing
04:59
The effects of Flint's lead poisoning disaster
lead poisoning ts orig cohen_00003529.jpg
lead poisoning ts orig cohen_00003529.jpg
Now playing
01:12
What is lead poisoning?

Story highlights

NEW: When Flint's former mayor asked the EPA for information, Susan Hedman essentially shot him down

Her resignation comes one day after Gov. Rick Snyder released more than 250 pages of emails

Flint residents say they're outraged they're getting bills for water they can't even use

Flint, Michigan CNN —  

The Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for Flint, Michigan, has resigned, the agency said in a statement Thursday.

“EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman has offered her resignation effective February 1, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has accepted given Susan’s strong interest in ensuring that EPA Region 5’s focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,” the agency said.

In late June, then-Flint Mayor Dayne Walling wrote to Hedman, seeking information about the issue of lead in Flint’s drinking water. She essentially shot him down in her response.

“The preliminary draft report should not have been released outside the agency. When the report has been revised and fully vetted by EPA management, the findings and recommendations will be shared with the City and MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) – and MDEQ will be responsible for following up with the City,” Hedman wrote.

She had also fallen under fire for allegedly retaliating against EPA employees involved in investigating sexual harassment cases.

More than 250 pages of governor’s emails

Hedman’s resignation comes one day after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released more than 250 pages of his emails that relate to the crisis.

The document dump did little to ease the predicament in which he finds himself. With each passing day, the chorus for him to step down has grown louder because the water debacle unfolded under his watch.

“So far, all roads lead to Lansing when it comes to accountability,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, who represents the Flint area, said Wednesday.

The emails help show, at least in part, how officials responded to the growing concerns about toxic lead contamination in Flint’s tap water. Some of them don’t paint a pretty picture.

5 striking emails on the Flint water crisis

His former chief of staff realized back in September 2015 the situation was becoming a political issue, but he then shifted the responsibility away from the state to the city.

“Of course, some of the Flint people respond by looking for someone to blame instead of working to reduce anxiety. We can’t tolerate increased lead levels in any event, but it’s really the city’s water system that needs to deal with it,” Dennis Muchmore, Snyder’s then-chief of staff, wrote in one email. He did say the state was “throwing as much assistance as possible at the lead problem.”

’They need to take responsibility’

Famed environmental activist Erin Brokovich told CNN the city’s emergency manager and the governor should be held responsible.

“We gave them a protocol a year ago as well on exactly how to avoid this disaster, and they did not want to listen,” she said.

The state, which at the time was in charge of the Flint’s budget because the city was in a financial emergency, switched the city’s water supply temporarily in April 2014 as a cost-saving measure.

Also Wednesday, the Michigan House of Representatives approved $28 million in emergency funding that Snyder had requested. But critics say the figure is too little and too late.

“They need to take responsibility for their actions, and they need to make this right with the people,” resident Leanne Walters told CNN.

Walters says her 5-year-old son has developed speech issues and a compromised immune system since the water crisis began. “There is no trust there anymore.”

Even President Barack Obama seemed frustrated.

“I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk,” he said in Detroit on Wednesday. “It is a reminder of why you can’t shortchange basic services that we provide to our people.”

Billed for bad water

Adding to residents’ outrage is the fact that they were being billed for water that put them in danger.

Several have filed a class-action suit to invalidate water bills from the city.

“The water has not been fit for its intended purpose. Essentially, the residents have been getting billed for water that they cannot use,” Trachelle Young, an attorney representing Flint residents, said. “We do not feel that that is a fair way to treat the residents.”

The city sent shut-off notices in November and December but did not disconnect water service. Kristin Moore, the director of public relations for Flint, told CNN the city has to charge for water to keep the system up-and-running and help pay for outstanding bond payment obligations.

“You have to pay a water bill for something that you can only flush with. And then you have to buy water on top of it. For those living in a low-income area, it’s just terrible,” said Rev. Bobby Jackson of “Mission of Hope,” an organization that’s handing out bottled water to Flint residents.

A racial component

Flint is a relatively poor, blue-collar city of just under 100,000 people. The median income is $24,000 and 56% of the population is African-American.

Like many Flint natives, Kildee thinks race and socioeconomic factors played a role in the state’s response to the water crisis.

“While it might not be intentional, there’s this implicit bias against older cities – particularly older cities with poverty (and) majority-minority communities,” he said. “It’s hard for me to imagine the indifference that we’ve seen exhibited if this had happened in a much more affluent community.”

A cartoon from Politco’s Matt Wuerker added fire to the fuel by evoking segregationist imagery.

It showed two water fountains: One labeled, “White” with clear liquid spouting from it and a more spartan-looking fountain labeled “Colored,” with brown liquid spewing out.

And at the Conference of Mayors in Washington on Wednesday, Mayor Karen Weaver implied that had Flint been a wealthy suburb, the water problem would’ve been solved much faster.

“It’s a minority community. It’s a poor community. And our voices were not heard,” she said.

CNN’s Joseph Netto reported from Flint, while Joshua Berlinger reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Greg Botelho, Linh Tran and Dana Ford also contributed.