Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Lindsey has worked as a reporter at radio stations in both West and Southeast Michigan, and her work has been recognized by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan AP. She's a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Specs Howard School of Media Arts.

Q&A

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Reporting from a hot air balloon was one of the scariest. Trying to bubble-wrap my recording equipment to come with me down a giant waterslide took the most preparation and ingenuity. Mostly I remember people; so many downtrodden, truthful, funny, inspiring, regular-everyday people. Nearly everyone I meet and talk to shapes how I view life in at least the slightest way.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio?
"Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's hilarious. "On the Media" is a very, very close second.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
Mostly, I'm proud of what we do and the stories we produce.

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The internet! What did anyone do without it! I mean, I remember life without it, but it's amazing how much I rely on it every day.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
It depends on the season. I love wakeboarding in the summer, hanging out on the beach, going on long walks with my dog Lola, grilling. In the winter I wish I could hibernate. I do enjoy snowboarding and movies and warm drinks indoors then.

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise!

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A common practice by operators of municipal drinking water systems is getting more scrutiny.

Last week the first criminal charges were filed in connection with the water crisis in Flint.

One of the charges caught my attention, because it includes a practice that’s the norm in Michigan cities.

Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.
Pine River Citizen Superfund Task Force

Researchers are expected to release preliminary findings this week about the potential long term health effects of PBB. The flame retardant was accidentally introduced into Michigan’s food supply in the 1970s.  

Experts are expected to release the results at a conference hosted by Alma College. PBB was once manufactured in the neighboring city of St. Louis, Michigan.

“We want an outcome that goes beyond just all of us hearing about this information from these experts,” said Ed Lorenz, a professor at Alma College.

Andrew Steiner / Feeding America West Michigan

Michigan is boosting efforts to provide healthy food to Flint residents amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it's awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Andrew Steiner says they knew there was a food processor north of Grand Rapids willing to donate frozen produce; squash, blueberries, cherries, asparagus and more.

“The amount of food that Arbre Farms was able to donate was actually more than we were able to handle,” Steiner said.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces charges in his team's investigation into the Flint water crisis on April 20, 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An official in the state Attorney General's office says warrants were issued this morning in 67th District Court against Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, and former Supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch.

The charges stem from their involvement in the Flint water crisis.

Attorney General Schuette launched the investigation three months ago.

In addition to the charges against the three individuals, Schuette said more people will be charged.

Lead pipes
Mitch Barrie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder is backing tougher standards for lead in drinking water. Cities are still figuring out what any proposed changes to drinking water regulations would mean for them.

If lawmakers were to enact the changes, it would make Michigan’s standard the toughest in the country.

Marc Edwards delivers the results of the tests on April 12, 2016.
YouTube / screen grab

New tests from the team at Virginia Tech show Flint’s water is “highly variable” and still not safe to drink without a filter.

Marc Edwards says tests done last month show Flint’s water is still above the federal action level for lead.

More from their press release:

Jim Renaud / Creative Commons

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit the ACLU filed in 2015 against a Roman Catholic hospital group. The lawsuit challenged the hospital group’s anti-abortion policy.

Livonia-based Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

The ACLU alleges pregnant women who develop complications are being discriminated against at Trinity’s hospitals because the Catholic health group won't terminate pregnancies.

Clyde Robinson / Creative Commons

Repossession companies want lawmakers to block a bill they say will harm their business and consumers.

The package of bills, SB 656 and 657, would exempt companies that serve as middle-men between lenders and the people who actually repossess cars from having to get a license to operate as debt collectors in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Because of the Flint water crisis, the U.S. EPA wants more transparency about where the nation’s lead lines are. Specifically, the EPA wants to know how many lead service lines there still are underground, and they want to know exactly where they are. As we reported Tuesday, many Michigan cities do not know this basic information, it’s not just Flint.

The EPA also wants water systems to post the results from water tests to prove cities are in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

This week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave the feds an update on these requests.

Michigan Radio

Because of Flint’s water crisis, regulators are asking water systems to answer a couple of seemingly basic questions: Where are Michigan’s lead water pipes? How many are left in the ground?

We’ve found the answers are hard to come by.

Lead leaches into drinking water from old lead service lines or lead solder, and from some plumbing in people’s home. A service line is the pipe that takes drinking water from the water main under the road into your home.

Nowadays, those lines are usually made of copper, sometimes plastic. But back before the 1950s, lead was pretty common.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state is now recommending that cities avoid replacing only part of a water service line if it's made of lead. Partial replacements aren’t uncommon.

Typically the municipality only owns part of the line, the part from the water main to the property line. This is the publicly owned portion of the service line. In this case, the part of the line that runs from the public right of way into a home is the privately owned portion of the line.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined a number of concerns in a letter to Flint and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Two of these lingering issues were deemed “critical” or “significant.” 

Those have to do with the city’s comprehensive plan to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water and “inadequate number of qualified personnel” at the city’s water department.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking all water systems to come up with plans to find and replace lead pipes in their communities, even the portions of water service lines that are on private property, which are traditionally the responsibility of the homeowner.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A couple of organizations suing the state over the Flint water crisis want people to have better access to safe drinking water on a daily basis. They are asking a federal judge to order the state to either deliver bottled water, or send professionals to install water filters at every home in Flint.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding firm on its decision that certain funding the state of Michigan is requesting to help with the Flint water crisis is “not appropriate.”

This goes back to January, when President Obama approved an emergency declaration for Flint. But he denied Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration because Flint’s water crisis is man-made, not a natural disaster.

The emergency declaration will bring up to $5 million in direct funding to Flint. A disaster declaration could have brought millions more.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are getting some relief when it comes to their water bills. But what about their medical bills? It’s a question some Flint families are asking.

Medical bills are adding up for Keri Webber. I met her over the weekend, volunteering at an open house for Flint residents.

Flint water sampling kits being handed out in Flint last month.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Researchers at Virginia Tech will spend the next week comparing current lead levels to the same homes they tested back in August. Those were the first tests that demonstrated a serious lead problem.

ArtPrize.org

This year ArtPrize is changing some of the rules.

Regular people who visit the annual art competition in Grand Rapids help pick the winners; it’s what makes ArtPrize different from other, juried competitions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Another class action lawsuit was filed today in connection to the Flint water crisis.

This is at least the fifth lawsuit filed in federal court because of high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

flickr user Bart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An audit of the unit within Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality that’s responsible for making sure water systems are following drinking water regulations declares the state’s oversight is “not sufficient.”

The report was released Friday morning by the Michigan Office of Auditor General.

The seats in the gym at Muskegon Heights High School were packed for a "unity" game Wednesday night.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A high school basketball game in Muskegon Heights Wednesday night united two West Michigan communities dealing with violence.

Shelby High School was supposed to play Muskegon Heights, but Shelby pulled out, citing a shooting after a game in the Heights last month.

Flint's records of where its lead service lines are located were on hundreds of index cards until February 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. EPA is stepping up enforcement of the federal rule designed to prevent people from being exposed to too much lead in their drinking water. Today, the agency is sending letters to 49 states responsible for implementing the federal rule. The EPA already has the primary responsibility for overseeing the Lead and Copper Rule in Wyoming and Washington D.C.

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

This morning Governor Rick Snyder’s office released 2,528 pages of emails from his executive staff related to the now well-known Flint water crisis, dating back to 2011.

More emails could be released later today.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press got some of the emails ahead of the public release Friday and published a series of articles about what they found in the documents.

Among the revelations:

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been two months since the former head of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality resigned. Dan Wyant resigned after a task force placed much of the blame for the Flint water crisis on the MDEQ.

Now, a coalition of environmentalists is urging the governor to appoint someone who’ll make human health the department’s top priority.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has replaced the director of Michigan's veterans’ affairs agency after an audit uncovered problems at a state-run nursing home for veterans.

Jeff Barnes, who led the agency for three years, resigned Friday. State officials said Barnes didn’t want to be a distraction as efforts were made to resolve the issues. Barnes, a former Army officer, previously was the governor's deputy chief of staff and his former campaign manager.

How much does your vote count? Thanks to gerrymandering, it depends on where you live.
Theresa Thompson / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two presidential hopefuls are in Michigan today.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making his first visit to Michigan.

He’s holding rallies at Eastern Michigan University, and at a union hall in Dearborn. Sanders is expected to talk about his plan to make college tuition-free, raising the minimum wage, and strengthening the middle class.

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich starts his two-day run through Michigan in Allendale, on the campus of Grand Valley State University.

John Sellek / Courtesy photo

If you live in Flint, it can be really hard to figure out what you should and should not do with your tap water. The messages from officials, scientists and non-profit groups sometimes conflict with one another and they’ve changed over time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor and others want to replace all the lead service lines in the city. Besides the cost, there’s been one huge hurdle: Flint doesn’t know where its lead service lines are.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost four months since Flint went back to buying water from Detroit’s water system.

Here’s the good news: Since January, more than 90 percent of water tests have come back below the federal action level for lead of 15 parts per billion.

But there are still some insanely high lead levels in some homes. Take a look at a map of where those are, and you'll see there’s no pattern.

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