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.

EPA Emergency response vehicle in Flint.

The EPA’s Inspector General says the agency should have issued an emergency order in Flint, Michigan seven months before it did.

The Inspector General’s investigation into the Flint water crisis found EPA Region 5 had enough information and the authority to issue an emergency order to protect Flint residents from lead-contaminated water as early as June 2015.

Senators Jim Ananich and Jim Stamas speak to the press after the committee released its recommendations.
screengrab / YouTube MLive

Lawmakers have ideas for how to ensure there is not a repeat of the Flint water crisis.

A report released Wednesday by State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, makes 36 recommendations.

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

The Legislature is going to work on toughening standards for lead in drinking water, although finishing the job may have to wait until next year.

State Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) has sponsored a bill to reduce the allowable levels of lead in drinking water. His bill would take the standard from the current 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 parts, and then to five pbb. He says the eventual goal is zero exposure to lead.

He says Michigan should adopt the toughest lead rules in the country following the Flint water crisis.                                     


LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A lawyer says Michigan's top public health official is a target in the criminal investigation of Flint's water crisis.

  Nick Lyon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, received a letter in early September from investigators indicating he is a focus, his attorney Larry Willey said Tuesday.

  Eight current or former state employees and one Flint worker have been charged in Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's probe.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal class action lawsuit to force fixes to Flint’s problem-plagued school district.

Flint’s public schools struggled even before the city’s lead-tainted tap water threatened to negatively affect the development of its students.

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It was late September 2015 when the lid blew off of the Flint water disaster.

At the time, much of the attention and credit went to Virginia Tech water scientist Marc Edwards and to Flint pediatrician Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha.

Edwards had been issuing a steady flood of warnings based on his tests of water from Flint homes while Dr. Hanna-Attisha's study of blood lead levels in Flint's children finally convinced state officials that a public health catastrophe had occurred.

But there's another player in all of this and his analysis of Dr. Hanna-Attisha's medical findings destroyed the state's contention that Flint's water problem was being overblown.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan will announce plans for a new class action lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis.

The ACLU’s new lawsuit will focus on the education rights of Flint area school-age children and what is needed to ensure their right to free and quality education.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The city of Flint will receive more than $970,000 to help residents get increased access to health services.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lawsuits keep piling up in the wake of the Flint water crisis. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about a new complaint that calls for a grand jury criminal investigation into Gov. Rick Snyder's legal fees. We also talk about another challenge to Michigan's 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures and upcoming visits from vice-presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.

Dr. Pamela Pugh has been on the job as Flint's chief public health adviser for less than two weeks.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are being urged to cooperate with an investigation into disease outbreak that may or may not be connected to the city’s water crisis.

Since March 1, more than 130 people in Genesee and Saginaw counties have fallen sick with an illness called Shigellosis. The disease causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain, but has not been linked to any fatalities.

The "Flint Sprint" will tackle 20 different projects in the city over the next 60 days.
Wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit bankruptcy brought government, foundations and business together, working to get through that historic crisis. Today marks the public launch of an effort to do the same for Flint.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about his latest column about the "Flint Sprint." This project brings a number of businesses -- both big and small -- to tackle 20 different projects over the next 60 days. 

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

A Flint resident is asking the Ingham County Circuit court to convene a one-person grand jury to investigate Governor Rick Snyder’s role in the Flint water crisis.

Keri Webber’s complaint says the governor unilaterally approved spending two million dollars on lawyers in violation of state law and the Michigan Constitution. The complaint says the governor can’t approve a contract in which he has a personal stake.

The plaintiffs say older, poor and impoverished people in Flint aren't getting enough water
Flickr user Daniel Orth / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the Flint water disaster exploded, the state began sending emergency supplies to the city: millions and millions of dollars worth of bottled water, filters and cartridges.

Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan's front-page story this week suggests the state overpaid for those supplies, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Egan found that instead of using a formal bidding process, the State went directly to Georgia-based Home Depot to buy the supplies. And it failed to seriously seek bids from  Michigan companies.

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University have researchers looking into when Flint residents should replace their home water filters.

The point-of-use filters, which became widely installed amid the Flint water crisis, are known to be effective in removing metals like lead and other contaminants from drinking water.

The universities have been looking into the water filters since news of the water crisis became public.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a crowd in Detroit Monday that we can expect "a positive message" during the last month of her campaign.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou discuss whether that will resonate with Michigan voters. Lessenberry and Tribou also look at a Detroit Free Press investigation that finds the state may have overpaid for supplies it bought in response to the Flint water crisis, and the teacher shortage that continues to plague Detroit Public Schools.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A complaint filed in Ingham County calls for a grand jury investigation into Governor Rick Snyder’s spending on a legal defense team. It accuses him of misconduct and abusing taxpayer dollars.

The legal action takes aim at Governor Snyder’s hiring of a private law firm to look out for his interests as state, federal, and county prosecutors conduct criminal investigations into the Flint water crisis.

The complaint says the governor violated the Michigan Constitution and state procurement laws by unilaterally approving a contract that he has a personal stake in.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint homeowners are getting new kits to test their tap water from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

For nearly a year, Flint residents have been able to pick up testing kits at water distribution sites.  The state would test the water samples for the presence of lead.

The new testing kits will now contain two bottles. Residents will be instructed to fill the smaller bottle first. State officials say the test will produce three results.   

The intent is to assess if home water faucets are a significant source of lead in the tap water. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Monday, the Flint city council will consider contracts for the next round of lead service line replacements.

The pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains are a prime source of lead leeching into people’s tap water.  To date, the city has replaced about 200 service lines.  

The contracts before the city council would target an additional 700 homes.  The project organizer hopes contractors will be able to replace at least 300 of those service lines before winter weather sets in.

Satellite image of algal bloom in Lake Erie taken in 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Two years after Toledo’s water supply was shut down by so-called blue-green algae, people are still worried about the safety of the city’s drinking water.

Toxins called microcystins are sometimes produced by certain freshwater cyanobacteria blooms. Those blooms are more likely under certain conditions, and every summer Toledo is on the watch for an increase.

john king talking at library
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint public school district is getting money from the federal government to help address critical needs arising from the city’s water crisis.

U.S. Secretary of Education John King, Jr. was in Flint today to discuss the $480,000 grant.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Consultants say cost restructuring may be needed to make Flint’s water bills more affordable.

Even before Flint water was unsafe to drink without a filter, many people tried to avoid turning on their taps because of the cost.

As Flint’s population dwindled, more of the cost of paying for the system fell on fewer and fewer people.   City officials added to the cost by siphoning off cash to pay for other city needs. Thousands of city residents either fell behind on their bills or had their water service shutoff. 

Centers for Disease Control

An outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness  is easing in Genesee and Saginaw Counties.

Many of the dozens of cases of Shigella occurred in Flint, but peaked weeks ago.

Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain.  More than a dozen people have been hospitalized, but there have been no fatalities.  

Dr. Eden Wells is the state’s chief medical executive. She says it’s not clear if people’s reluctance to use Flint water for basic hygiene is a factor.

It's been one year since health officials in Michigan warned people in the city of Flint to stop drinking the tap water after a research team from Virginia Tech discovered elevated lead levels.

To this day, Flint's water is still not safe to drink without a filter. While funding has been scarce to replace corroded pipes, Congress reached a deal this week that could send millions of dollars in aid to Flint.

Mike and Keri Webber
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Today marks one year since health officials in Genesee County warned people living in Flint to stop drinking their tap water.

The water is improving, but Flint’s water is still not safe to drink without a filter. But there are stories of hope on this not-so-pleasant anniversary.

Gary Johnson
Gage Skidmore / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Before U.S. lawmakers left town this week, the House approved a funding bill that includes $170 million for Flint. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth talk about what needs to happen to get the bill passed once lawmakers return after Election Day. They also talk about Donald Trump's fifth visit to Michigan since he was named the Republican presidential nominee, and The Detroit News' surprising endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson for president. 

Congressman Moolenaar said this approval comes at a good time, following the release of a study this month that showed almost twice as many of Flint’s water lines may need to be replaced than originally thought.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio


It’s been over a year since the water crisis in Flint became international news.

On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives approved $170 million to go towards replacing lead water pipe lines in Flint.

The Flint funding amendment to the Water Resources Development Act was co-sponsored by Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, and Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

Part of Flint's  hand-written records showing drinking water lines last updated in 1984.
Image courtesty of Jacob Abernethy / U of M

New research suggests there may be many more lead service lines in Flint that need to be replaced than previously thought.

A team of University of Michigan researchers examined 171 drinking water service lines removed as part of Flint’s “Fast Start” program. The pipes had connected homes to city water mains.

Based on the city's records, they expected around 40% of them would contain lead, but they found 96% did.

More from a summary of findings by the U of M researchers:

A crew replacing a lead service line in Flint.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress is closer to giving Flint tens of millions of dollars to fix its lead-tainted tap water system.

Before it left town on Wednesday, the U.S. House approved a water infrastructure spending bill. The bill was amended yesterday to include $170 million for Flint.

The House approved its version of the Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 284 to 141.

Image of the U.S. Capitol
user EFF Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan congressmen helped craft a funding solution for Flint’s water crisis that might avert a federal government shutdown.

Democrats are opposing a continuing budget resolution unless money to replace Flint’s pipes is included.   Without the resolution, the federal government would shut down at the end of the month.

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

Update: 9/28/2016 2:50 p.m.

There appears to be a compromise on funding for Flint that would avoid a potential partial shutdown of the government.  House Republicans say they will allow a vote on U.S. Representative Dan Kildee's amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, providing $170 million to help Flint deal with a lead-tainted water system.

U.S. Senator Gary issued the following statement:

“The people of Flint have waited far too long for Congress to act and finally help put them on the road to recovery. House Republican leadership refused to even go on record supporting Flint as recently as Monday, and I am pleased that under pressure from Senate and House Democrats they are now indicating some willingness to help Flint. I will continue pushing to pass our carefully crafted, fully paid-for agreement that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support as part of WRDA or another legislative vehicle. I have said that Congress can and should help both flooding victims and Flint residents, and I cannot support a government funding bill that prioritizes one state’s emergency over another’s.”


Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted against a bill to keep the federal government funded through December 9, sending the bill to defeat.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said the bill included $500 million to help victims of flooding in Louisiana, while ignoring residents of Flint, whose water was tainted with lead two years ago.