Watchdog: EPA Delayed Flint Emergency Order by 7 Months

The agency did not know it had the power to issue an emergency order.

“Federal law provides the EPA with emergency authority to intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised," said EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins. "Employees must be knowledgeable, trained and ready to act when such a public health threat looms.”

Flint's drinking water was contaminated after the city switched its supply in April 2014, exposing many of the city's nearly 100,000 residents to elevated lead levels in the water.

State regulators failed to ensure water was being properly treated.

Hundreds of children have been found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood, doctors found.

Federal, state and local officials have pointed fingers for over two years since the water crisis began.

So far, three state officials are facing charges.

“These situations should generate a greater sense of urgency,” said the inspector general.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

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