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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.

Flint residents still rely on bottled water a years after the crisis started.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A federal judge says the state must start weekly deliveries of bottled water to Flint residents who do not have properly installed or maintained filters.

Zhu “Joyce” Ni, Min Tang, Pan Ji, Mariah Gnegy / Virginia Tech

Researchers from Virginia Tech announced the results of their fourth round of water testing in Flint today.

The tests show that lead levels continue to drop, that water disinfection by-products in the water are normal, and that the drinking water in the city continues to improve.

“We’re now approaching the end of the public health crisis,” said Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University.

Edwards says even with the improvements, citizens in Flint should still be protecting themselves.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

Researchers from Virginia Tech are announcing the results of their fourth round of water testing in Flint today.

For many people in the city, their trust in government has been broken. They don't trust what the state, or the federal government say about the safety of their water.

The Virginia Tech researchers are more trusted. They sounded the alarm about the lead crisis in the summer of 2015. And they've been retesting as many of the homes in their original study as they can. Officials are watching what the team has to say about the safety of the water closely. 

Lee Anne Walters with her son Garrett outside of her home in Flint.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

One of the women who helped uncover the Flint water crisis says members of the U.S. Navy are retaliating against her husband. You can catch up on her family's back story here.

For many Flint residents, trips to a nearby water distribution center is a regular part of life.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two federal courts are weighing legal arguments over requiring the government to deliver bottled water to Flint residents.

A federal judge ordered the state to make weekly home deliveries. The Snyder administration and water activists have filed dueling motions over the judge’s order.    

Attorneys for the state say the order would create an “insurmountable burden.”

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Congress returns to D.C. this week to begin a three-week-long lame duck session.

Congressman Dan Kildee says funding for Flint is at the top of his list of things to get done before the end of the year.

“We’ve really been working on this for almost the entire year to get Congress to take action, and until we get it done it continues to be my number one priority,” Kildee said.

The funding could help pay to replace thousands of lead service lines damaged because of the water crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan officials are fighting a court order to start delivering bottled water directly to some Flint homes.

But local activists say that water is needed now, even as the case is appealed to a higher court.

Earlier this month, federal judge David Lawson ordered the state and the city of Flint to deliver cases of bottled water to homes without working water filters.  The filters are needed to screen out lead in the drinking water.

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

This week, delinquent residential water customers in Flint are facing a choice: pay up or their service may be cutoff.

The city of Flint has had some success getting commercial water customers to pay up past due accounts using a carrot and stick approach. Pay up and continue to get a state credit on their bills or risk losing water and sewer service. More than ¾ Flint commercial water customers are now up to date on their water and sewer bills. There are a few, including two apartment complexes, that are facing shutoffs.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency is giving the city of Flint and the state of Michigan until early next year to get its plans in place for switching to the KWA water pipeline.

Eventually, the city of Flint’s tap water will come from the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline. But the EPA says there are a few things that have to happen first.   

Mistakes made the last time Flint tried treating its own drinking damaged pipes with leached lead into the tap water. 

National Guardsmen delivered bottled water in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking for a stay of a federal court order that bottled water be delivered to Flint homes.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson issued an injunction last week directing the state of Michigan and city of Flint to begin delivering cases of bottled water to city residents without working water filters.     

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

New test results show lead levels in Kalamazoo’s water system have dropped.

The federal limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Last time the city tested, in 2014, Kalamazoo’s lead level was 13 parts per billion. Now it's down to 4 ppb.

13 ppb was close enough to worry Shannan Deater, Kalamazoo’s Environmental Services Programs Manager. She says some of the higher lead results in 2014 weren’t really a good, representative sample. 

Flint city leaders say water crisis is far from over

Nov 15, 2016
Flint River and water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's water crisis became national news last year, but city officials want you to know it's still not fixed yet.

This week, Congressman Dan Kildee introduced new legislation to improve lead standards in drinking water, and the Flint city council approved Mayor Karen Weaver's renewal of emergency status for Flint.

Weaver says city residents still don't have safe tap water.

“In case somebody doesn't know, unfortunately the fact of the matter is that we still cannot drink our water without a filter,” Weaver says. "And that’s a huge issue.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator says there are some things that Congress has to address when it returns to work this week.  

Sen. Debbie Stabenow says her top priority during Congress’ lame duck session will be lining up federal money for Flint.

“We have a promise that was made to me by the Speaker of the House and the Republican Majority Leader that before the end of this year we would pass the money that’s critical to fixing the pipes in Flint,” says Stabenow.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says the city will do everything it can to abide by a federal judge’s order that bottled water should be delivered to households in need.   

Flint residents have been relying on water from distribution centers for nearly a year, since lead contaminated the city’s tap water. But what has become a daily chore for many in Flint can be too taxing for the elderly and disabled.

Mayor Karen Weaver says the city will reach out to the state for help, though she says bottled water is still only a “temporary fix.”  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is warning its delinquent commercial water customers that it’s time to pay up or risk being shut off.

City workers were out Friday posting shutoff notices on commercial properties with past due accounts.   Apartment complexes are among those getting the notices.

“What these landlords are doing is wrong,” Mayor Karen Weaver says. “Some owners haven’t paid the city of Flint for utility services since 2015.”

The city is trying to avoid shutting off water service which would force renters out.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A U.S. District judge is ordering the government to ensure that every Flint household has safe drinking water. That means home delivery of bottled water.

Federal judge David Lawson issued his order Thursday.

“In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out,” writes Lawson in his order. “Relief is intended to provide a rough substitute for the essential service that municipal water systems must furnish: delivery of safe drinking water at the point of use.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials want more of a say in the state’s investment priorities in their city.

It’s been nearly a year since a state of emergency was declared in Flint because of lead contaminated drinking water.  

State officials point to millions of dollars spent during the past year to help Flint recover from its water crisis, including economic development projects.

But Flint leaders question the state’s spending priorities.

“People have seen us do a ribbon cutting at the Capitol Theater but we still don’t have a grocery store,” says Mayor Karen Weaver.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The deadline for Flint’s commercial water customers to pay their delinquent bills was today.

Flint’s commercial customers owe the city more than a million dollars.   The city may start the process of cutting off their water service next week.

On Friday, the owners of two apartment complexes paid nearly $30 thousand each to bring their accounts up to date.    

“We’re glad that these account holders have stepped up and done the right thing,” said David Sabuda, Flint’s Interim Chief Financial Officer.

Blood test.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking the federal government for money to expand lead abatement efforts.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is seeking nearly $24 million to permanently remove or contain lead based paint in homes, to replace lead water fixtures, and to remove soil lead hazards.  

Earlier this year, volunteers from Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Flint unload fresh produce and boxes of food from a mobile food bank.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many kids in Flint were exposed to elevated levels of lead in their drinking water during the water crisis. One way people are helping to curb the effects of lead exposure is by providing healthy food options to the community.

It's being done, in part, through a mobile food pantry created via Flint's Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"So far Flint residents have received more than 2 million pounds of food through these mobile food pantries," says MDHHS Communications Manager and Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report finds a majority of households in Flint say they have suffered health problems in the wake of the city’s water crisis.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services asked the federal Centers for Disease Control to conduct a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER. Researchers visited 182 Flint households.

The last pipes for the KWA were laid earlier earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Federal, state, and Flint officials sat down behind closed doors at city hall on Monday to discuss ways to respond to questions about the city’s planned switch to a new water source.

Possibly next year, the city will connect with the recently completed Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline.   The city is committed to switching to the KWA pipeline as its new primary source of drinking water. 

A glass being filled with tap water.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint-area charities are concerned that hundreds of people may be forced out of their apartments as the city tries to get commercial water customers to pay their delinquent bills.

Flint is under pressure from the state to get more of the city’s water customers up to date on their bills.

The city has put many commercial customers on notice that their water could be cut off soon. That includes large apartment complexes.

The United Way’s Jamie Gaskin says charities may have trouble finding enough places for displaced tenants to stay.

For almost eight months, the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Crisis has been meeting, taking testimony, and struggling to find solutions.

Two days ago, they released a major report aimed at preventing further disasters. Unfortunately, they did this the day of the final presidential debate, which meant it got less than full attention. 


Flint River and water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATED at 10:28 on 10/21/16

Two bills to help Flint recover from the water crisis are making their way through the legislature. Both bills passed through the Senate Thursday with a near-unanimous vote.

EPA Emergency response vehicle in Flint.
EPA

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.                                     

MDHHS

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.

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