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This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry talk about the politics of water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint wants to restructure some bond payments to pay for two million dollars of recommended fixes to the city’s troubled water system.

A year ago, the city ended its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and opted to treat water from the Flint River instead.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint fired its long-time water provider, the city of Detroit, last spring, and began treating its own water from the Flint River.

There were problems right away, including complaints by residents about the taste, smell and appearance of the water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Flint’s emergency manager should receive the final report from a consultant hired to look at the city’s troubled water system.

Drafts of the final report were circulated last week. 

Flint Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose says the report will make specific recommendations on what chemicals to use, and how much of each, to treat Flint River water. The report will also touch on other operational issues facing the system.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Once again, tempers flared during a public meeting on Flint’s water problems.

The city’s water system has been plagued with problems for the past year.  

Thursday, Flint officials held another meeting on the city’s troubled tap water.

And once again, a shouting match erupted.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials say levels of a potentially harmful chemical in the city's drinking water are now within acceptable limits. 

Flint residents got a shock earlier this year when they learned their tap water had unacceptably high levels of total trihalomethane, a byproduct of chlorine. The city used a large amount to chlorine last summer to treat the city’s water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water is safe. That’s the opinion of a consultant hired by city officials.

But a preliminary report released yesterday says steps must be taken in the short and long-term to avoid problems with Flint’s water system.

Flint residents have been complaining about the taste and smell of the city’s water for nearly a year. Many are concerned the water’s not safe.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An outside expert is making some surprising recommendations to fix Flint’s water woes.

The report issued Tuesday recommends Flint discontinue the process of fluoridation, among other things.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Dozens of people braved the arctic cold to march through downtown Flint today. 

Chants of “What do we want? Good water. When do we want it? Now!” echoed through downtown Flint.  

The protesters alternated between waving homemade signs and hunching over to ward off icy winds which knocked the wind chill well below zero.      

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Flint switched from Detroit’s water system last year and is now using the Flint River until it can hook up to Lake Huron.

But there have been major problems. Residents complain about the water tasting and smelling bad. The Department of Environmental Quality cited Flint in December for violating the Safe Water Drinking Act. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials expect to announce this week a decision on hiring a consultant to help with the city’s water problems.

Only one company applied for the job. 

City officials want an outside eye to evaluate its water treatment process. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

These days, many people in Flint choose not to drink the city’s water. 

Many others have no choice. They cannot afford to pay their water bills. 

During the last few years, Flint water rates have soared, as city officials have struggled to maintain its aging water system. 

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This week, Jack and Emily discuss what’s missing from President Obama’s proposed budget, a grant to help Flint’s water woes, and a new bill that would make it legal for unmarried people to jointly adopt children.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting some help from the state to fix some problems with its aging, problem plagued municipal water system.

The governor’s office announced today that Flint will receive $2 million from the state’s Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships Grant Program.

The city will use the money to detect leaks in its water lines and replace its Water Pollution Control Facility Incinerator.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People lined up in single digit cold outside a church on Flint’s south side to get some free water this morning.  A few blocks away, others lined up outside a union hall. 

Combined, Catholic Charities and the UAW were giving away several thousand gallons of water.

Mary Stevenson with Catholic Charities was helping coordinate today’s water giveaway.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow morning, Catholic Charities and UAW workers plan to distribute two thousand gallons of free water to Flint residents. 

It’s just the latest water giveaway in Flint. 

Last week, dozens of people lined up for cases of bottled water being given away by local businesses. 

Photos of people standing in line waiting for water have been seen around the state and the country.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s search for a consultant to help with its water problems is down to one, by default.

Only one company applied for the water consultant job.  

Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose says he “would have preferred more.” 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Cars started lining up at dawn today at a Flint business giving away free water.

Concerns about the safety of Flint’s tap water has created high demand for bottled water. 

But many Flint residents say they have trouble paying for what little bottled water is still sitting on store shelves. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, Jack and Emily discuss anguish over Flint’s water, a plan for some Detroiters to pay half price on auctioned homes and a new gun bill moving ahead in Lansing.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials tried again last night to convince city residents their tap water is safe to drink. 

Most of the people at the meeting left with doubts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says the governor has some responsibility to ensure that Flint residents have “clean, safe and affordable water.”

Mayor Dayne Walling sent a letter to the governor this week.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents turned out Tuesday to complain about the quality of Flint's water and safety concerns.

Chanting “Clean water…that’s all we want,” a small group gathered outside city hall to protest against the quality of the city’s water and rising water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's emergency manager says he will not approve a return to Detroit's water system, even though the city's switch to using water from the Flint River has been rife with problems.

Flint ditched its water contract with Detroit, and began using water from the Flint River instead this spring.  Complaints surfaced early on about the water's taste. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city leaders are trying to quell concerns about the safety of the city’s water.

Concerns were raised last year by a string of water advisories, along with complaints of discolored, smelly water flowing from home faucets. 

This week, Flint residents received notices that their water system violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. Tests conducted last year revealed a higher an acceptable level of trihalomethane or THM.  THM is a byproduct of the chlorination process.  

Jenn Durfy / Flickr

Why are water bills in Flint higher than anywhere else in Genesee County?

The Flint Journal and Mlive found water customers in Flint pay on average $140 a month for water and sewer service. That is tops in the county.

It’s also $35 a month more than Montrose, which is second-highest.

Not only is the cost high, but it looks as if it will only go up. The budget set out by Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley calls for a 6.5% increase in water and sewer rates.

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry sat down to discuss what's going on this week in Michigan politics. They covered the high price of water in Flint and Detroit, GM’s decision to move its Cadillac headquarters to New York, and the debates for Michigan governor and the U.S. Senate race.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint may be a bit wary of drinking water from their taps these days.

Several boil water advisories have been issued in the past month, after tests showed potential problems with bacteria.   The latest pair of advisories were lifted last week.

Howard Croft is Flint’s public works director. He says the problems are due to Flint’s aging infrastructure. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water department is getting plenty of complaints about the smell and taste of the city’s tap water.

This Spring, the city started using water from the Flint River after decades of getting its water from Detroit.

Daugherty Johnson is Flint’s utilities administrator. He says complaints about Flint’s water are nothing new.

“We’ve certainly had more complaints since the switch over…and we recognize those hardness issues that we’re working through right now,” says Johnson.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Flint city council members and residents are expressing frustration with the way the city’s emergency manager is handling the creation of next year’s budget.

“We deserve better,” said one of the dozens of Flint residents who turned out for a public hearing on the proposed two-year city budget Monday night. 

The plan includes eliminating 36 police positions and 19 firefighter jobs. The budget also calls for raising Flint’s already high water and sewer rates by 6% a year for each of the next two years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After a brief delay, the city of Flint will finally start getting its drinking water exclusively from the Flint River starting this afternoon.

City leaders had hoped to start tapping the Flint River earlier this week. But the state Department of Environmental Quality refused to give its final OK until more work was done on a disinfectant system.

The DEQ has now given its approval.

So this afternoon at 2 p.m., Flint city officials will shut the valve on the intake pipe that brings water to the city from Detroit.

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