Two years ago today, the city of Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit River to the Flint River – water we now know was not treated with corrosion control chemicals. Water that went on to corrode pipes and cause lead to leach into people's drinking water.
This was the origin of the Flint water crisis, and one of the first journalists to start covering the story was Ron Fonger from the MLive.com and The Flint Journal. He joined Stateside to reflect on the last two years.
According to Fonger, after the ceremony to switch the city’s drinking water, it didn’t take long for people to start sounding the alarm at city council meetings. Residents showed up to report that something wasn’t right with what was coming out of the taps in their homes.
“There’s some satisfaction in that we finally saw the state of Michigan acknowledge problems that were being denied for a long time,” says Fonger. “I think there’s also kind of a sense of exasperation here. There will be people protesting out in front of city hall today to mark this anniversary. We’re still in a position where the local officials, the state officials and the federal officials are telling us that it is still not safe to drink water straight out of the tap here, and to think that that’s been going on for two years is an incredible burden that the people of this city should not have had to go through.”
Stateside also welcomed Flint resident Amber Hasan back to the show. Last January, Hasan started withholding payments for her water bills, which were among the highest in Michigan. She hopes the support and attention that Flint has received is not just a passing fad.
“Are people looking at [Flint] and giving us attention because we’re the next thing, or the next cause and they’re going to pay us attention for two months and then everything is going to go back to usual and nobody’s going to remember us? Or is there going to be something where there’s a systematic change? And just being in Flint, it almost feels like a Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana type thing," says Hasan.
Listen to the full segment above to hear from both guests as they reflect on the last two years of the Flint water crisis.
MLive.com/Flint Journal reporter Ron Fonger
Flint resident Amber Hasan