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Flint water crisis

Scroll through all of our coverage of the Flint water crisis below. And you can find our special series Not Safe to Drink here.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A year after Flint's tap water was exposed as a source of dangerous levels of lead, residents are still grappling with the man-made public health crisis.

  A year ago Saturday, doctors discovered high amounts of the toxin in children and warned against using the Flint River water. Local health officials declared an emergency and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed there were "serious issues."

  In addition criminal investigations, the crisis has sparked congressional hearings, lawsuits and scrutiny of lead testing across the country.

Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
Bobby Mikul / Flickr creative commons

Congress has to ensure the federal government is funded past September 30 by its October recess. But Flint's ongoing water crisis is standing in the way of Republicans and Democrats coming to an agreement. 

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that Democrats in Congress want money to help Flint, Michigan to be included in a government aid bill for Louisiana and other states dealing with flood relief. 

Inside the Michigan Capitol looking up at the dome.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan legislators are turning their attention from away lawmaking to campaigning.

State lawmakers have a couple days on their calendar next month, but for the most part, Michigan legislators will be busy campaigning.

But as state lawmakers leave Lansing, there’s still more to do on the legislative agenda.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley says it’s a common problem nearing the end of a legislative term. State lawmakers leave to campaign for re-election and leave thousands of bills waiting for action.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou talk about a sudden rule change that takes away Flint's power to sue the state over the city's lead-tainted drinking water crisis.

Lessenberry and Tribou also discuss Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson's plan to keep out Syrian refugees and a push to strengthen lead regulations in Michigan before Election Day. 


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Amidst the headlines about Attorney General Schuette's criminal investigation and charges filed in the Flint water disaster, there is another legal story unfolding.

Four separate civil lawsuits were filed on behalf of thousands of Flint residents between November of last year and this past April. And, as we mark one year since the breadth and depth of the Flint water crisis became known to the world, we decided to measure the progress of these suits.

Years ago, I heard a young reporter ask an old editorial writer what the difference was between Republicans and Democrats.

The old guy said, “Democrats love big government, preferably controlled by and run from Washington. Republicans are in favor of smaller, less intrusive government, and local control,” he said, and then paused.

“Except, that is, when they’re not.”

The young reporter asked when that was. “Whenever local government does something they don’t want it to do,” the old cynic said. That was long before the Tea Party or Rick Snyder.

Filling a sample bottle.
Courtesy photo / Virginia Tech

This week, a state lawmaker from Flint says he’ll introduce legislation that would make Michigan’s regulations on lead in drinking water some of the strictest in the U.S.

Governor Rick Snyder first rolled out the proposal in April in reaction to the Flint water crisis. He said federal rules on the amount of lead allowed in drinking water were “dumb and dangerous” because they’re not based on protecting public health.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

 

  

It has been a year now since Michigan and the world learned that the lead levels of children living in areas of Flint has doubled, even tripled.

It was September 2015 when pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha braved the scorn of certain state employees to present her stunning research findings that proved that elevated lead levels in Flint children correlated to the the switch to Flint River water.

  

As we know by now, the dismissive state officials were wrong, and Hanna-Attisha was right.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Days after Flint's mayor served notice the city might sue Michigan over Flint's crisis with lead-tainted water, the state removed the city's ability to sue.

Flint hasn't been under a state-appointed emergency manager since April 2015, but the state still exerts partial control over the city through a five-member Receivership Transition Advisory Board, whose members are appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The city of Flint is slowly replacing damaged lead service lines. But city officials say they need money from the federal government to pay for much of the work.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the U.S. House of Representative could vote on spending billions of dollars to fix the nation’s crumbling municipal water systems.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a $10 billion bill that included $100 million specifically to replace Flint’s damaged pipes. The pipes have been leaching lead into the city’s drinking water.

But U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, is concerned the House legislation does not include money earmarked for Flint.

McLaren Hospital in Flint and the Genesee County Health Department have been working with the Centers for Disease Control since a court order is preventing local officials from talking directly with the state health department.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State officials are confirming an eighth case of Legionnaire's disease in Genesee County.

A press release from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says state health department officials can’t say much about the latest case because of a court order preventing it from talking directly to Genesee County health officials.

The court order is part of a criminal probe of the Flint water crisis, which includes the state health department.  

Donald Trump is lashing out against an African-American pastor who interrupted him Wednesday to chide him for campaigning in her Flint, Mich., church.

"Something was up," Trump told Fox and Friends on Thursday morning, calling the Rev. Faith Green Timmons a "nervous mess."

"I noticed she was so nervous when she introduced me," he said. "When she got up to introduce me she was so nervous, she was shaking. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. Then she came up. So she had that in mind, there's no question."

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

 This past April Governor Rick Snyder said he wanted the state to enact tougher lead limits for drinking water than the federal limits. He unveiled the plan in the wake of the ongoing Flint water crisis.

The EPA measures lead levels in terms of parts per billion, and the current "federal action level" for lead in drinking water is 15 ppb. Snyder said he wanted to lower Michigan's standard to 10ppb, making it the toughest standard in the country.

Work crew replacing a lead service line in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Senate has approved a $10 billion water projects bill that includes money for Flint, Michigan - nearly a year after a public health emergency was first declared there because of lead-contaminated water.

Senators approved the bill by a 95-3 vote. It goes to the House, where approval of a similar bill - minus the Flint provision - is expected as soon as next week.

“The people of Flint have waited too long. They cannot wait any longer and we must take action,” U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-MI, said today.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents will continue to drink water from Detroit well into next year.

While Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump was making the rounds in Flint on Wednesday, learning about the city’s drinking water crisis, the city’s state appointed oversight board quietly approved extending a deal that delivers fresh water from Detroit.

Flint switched back to Detroit water last fall.  The new extension will keep the water flowing through next Spring.

The plaintiffs say older, poor and impoverished people in Flint aren't getting enough water
Flickr user Daniel Orth

Should a judge force the government to deliver bottled water, door to door, to everybody in Flint?

The Flint water crisis has gone to federal court: a group of activists say the state’s efforts really aren’t reaching a lot of people – especially older, sick, or low-income people.

There’s several plaintiffs here:  a group called the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a Flint resident/activist named Melissa Mays.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump came to Flint today and toured the city's water plant.

The facility has not been operational since last fall, after the city switched back to Detroit water following a catastrophic move to pump water from the Flint River. The city failed to properly treat the river water, leading to a lead contamination crisis for the city of 100,000.  

Also in Flint yesterday, for the first time, a Michigan state employee was convicted for actions related to the water crisis. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals has agreed to hear a dispute between the Michigan health department and authorities who are investigating crimes in the Flint water crisis.

Gov. Rick Snyder is challenging an order by a judge that prohibits McLaren Hospital and the Genesee County Health Department from talking to the state about new cases of Legionnaire's disease.

The Flint River.
Sarah Razak / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan Democrats and Flint leaders continue to urge Congress to help Flint with its ongoing water crisis.

State and city officials want Congress to help Flint and other cities improve or replace their aging water infrastructure.  

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-MI, represents Michigan's 5th district, which includes Flint. He says too many children in Flint have been exposed to the lead in the city's drinking water.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Prosecutors say there is a link between Flint’s use of the Flint River as its drinking water source and a deadly Legionnaires Disease outbreak. 

The link was announced during a court hearing that saw another former government worker plead to charges in the city’s drinking water crisis. 

Donald Trump plans to visit Flint.
DonaldJTrump.com

Ever since the Flint water crisis broke open this past January, Flint has been no stranger to visitors.

Politicians, movie stars, musicians, and media from all over the world have come to see the city stricken by lead-tainted water.

Now it's Donald Trump's turn to visit Flint.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is making progress on replacing lead service lines.

The pipes connect city water mains to homes and businesses. They're a primary source of lead in Flint’s tap water.

Earlier this year, the mayor’s Fast Start program sputtered, with just 33 lines being replaced.

Phase two of the program started again just before Labor Day.  

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will be in Washington D.C. asking for federal help with the city’s lead tainted tap water.

Weaver says she’s scheduled to meet with Michigan’s congressional delegation.   

She says she’ll give the lawmakers an update on Flint’s lead service line replacement program and other needs.

Recently an EPA official predicted Flint residents might have to use water filters for at least another year because of the lingering lead problem. Weaver says that opinion should strengthen Flint’s case for federal funds.

Rex Babiera / Flicker https://flic.kr/p/8HGMDv

In Flint, we know lead has leached from water pipes, called service lines. But it’s not as clear how much the plumbing in people’s homes is contributing to the problem.

“There were no lead service lines to any of the schools and yet there was a significant amount of lead in a number of the samples,” said George Krisztian, who’s coordinating the state’s response in Flint for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“So the question was, 'OK, where is the lead coming from?” Krisztian recalls.

From left: Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White, national NAACP President Cornell Brooks, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan chapters of the NAACP met in Detroit for the group’s 80th statewide convention this weekend.

The historic group talked strategies to confront current civil rights challenges, that range from police brutality and criminal justice reform, to state laws that limit voting rights.

National NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who spoke at the Michigan conference, called 2016 a "critical year" for the modern civil rights and racial justice movements, as well as a critical election year.

Michigan Attorney General's office

There is speculation that another person criminally charged in the Flint water crisis will agree to cooperate with prosecutors.

Flint paying price for red tape, politicking

Sep 10, 2016
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The water crisis in Flint is giving the troubled city renewed attention and a jolt of economic opportunity. But two things are standing in the way: bureaucracy and politics.

Just ask Michael McDaniel. He’s the retired brigadier general in the Michigan National Guard who Mayor Karen Weaver hired last February to head the city’s Flint Action and Stability Team. He’s still waiting to be paid for the work he’s doing.

Michael Hood and Laurie Carpenter, founders of the humanitarian aid group Crossing Water.
Stephanie Kenner / Crossing Water

This weekend the group Crossing Water is calling for volunteers to continue the work they've been doing for a long time now: going door to door helping Flint residents deal with the water contamination in the city. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is getting down to work on a final report on the Flint water crisis.

The process began roughly nine months ago when the commission decided to examine what factors may have contributed to the crisis. 

On Thursday, the commission held its third and final public hearing into allegations that classism and racism were root causes of the city’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz says now the important work begins, putting together their findings in a final report.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A growing number of Flint officials are raising concerns about a court order blocking the state health department from talking directly with Genesee County health agencies.

The state health department is part of a criminal probe into the Flint water crisis. The court order is part of the investigation, with the intent of protecting potential evidence. 

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