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.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says lawyers hired by Governor Rick Snyder at public expense are delaying progress in the criminal investigation of the Flint water crisis.

Schuette says the governor’s attorneys won’t turn over documents demanded by his Flint investigative team. The attorneys come from private law firms but are paid using state funds. More than $1 million has been approved to pay for the defense team.

Schuette says his office is bargaining with the governor’s lawyers, but would not rule out legal action.

faucet
Steve Johnson / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint isn't alone alone when it comes to problems with lead-contaminated tap water.

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council says more than 5,000 water systems around the country had lead violations in 2015.

That comes out to more than 18 million Americans who were served by lead-contaminated water systems last year.

Transmission electron microscopy image of Legionella pneumophilia, responsible for over 90% of Legionnares' disease cases.
CDC Public Health Library / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There were 91 people who contracted Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County in 2014 and 2015.

It was a spectacular spike in cases in a county which averaged fewer than 10 cases of legionella over the prior four years.

Records show that 12 of those 91 patients died.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint continues to struggle to replace damaged pipes.    

Mayor Karen Weaver said bids from contractors to replace up to 500 service lines came in “extremely high”. 

But there is an offer on the table that could potentially present the city with a big savings.

Walter Wang is the owner of JM Eagle, a California company that produces plastic pipes.  Back in February, Wang offered to give the city enough plastic PVC pipe to replace thousands of damaged lead service lines for free.

But to date, Flint officials have not accepted Wang’s offer.

Crew works on replacing a lead service line in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city officials are scheduled to sit down with seven contractors tomorrow with hopes of getting the city’s pipe replacement program back on track.

Contractors submitted bids last week to replace hundreds of lead service lines in Flint.

The pipes connect homes to city water mains, and are a prime source of lead that’s leeching into Flint’s drinking water.

But Mayor Karen Weaver says those bids were “extremely high.” She says Monday’s meeting is intended to hopefully find ways to reduce the cost.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is setting aside more money for future disasters and emergencies.

This past week, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill to raise the cap on Michigan’s Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund from $4.5 million to $10 million.   

The fund provides state assistance to counties and municipalities when federal assistance is not available.

Flint River and water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint water crisis is now an important piece of the city's story and history.

It will affect the city and its residents for decades to come.  

Michigan Radio and countless other local and national news outlets have reported various aspects of the crisis, from how it unfolded to how the crisis will affect the city's children as they grow into adults. And that reporting will continue into the foreseeable future, since Flint water is still not safe to drink, unfiltered.

Republican presidential candidate at a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan (prior to his stop in Cadillac).
Jake Neher / MPRN

Two of the biggest Michigan political stories this week were the announcement of more lawsuits involving the Flint water crisis, and the "Dump Trump" movement in the presidential race. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that his office has filed a civil suit against three companies (Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam) for their role in the Flint water crisis.

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Health officials say filtered Flint tap water is now safe enough for children and pregnant women to drink.

For months, concerns about potential lead exposure from the tap prompted federal, state and local officials to urge kids and pregnant women to only drink bottled water in Flint.

But that recommendation is changing.

Dr. Nicole Lurie is an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   She’s leading the federal response to the Flint Water Crisis.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette announces civil suits against three companies involved in the Flint water crisis.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced today he's suing companies that he says allowed the Flint water disaster to, in his words, "occur, continue and worsen."

Michigan Radio

The allegations in a civil lawsuit may prompt the city of Flint to reconsider a contract with a firm hired to help it with its drinking water.

The city of Flint has paid Lockwood, Andrews and Newman, or LAN, nearly $3.5 million as it transitioned from Detroit water to the Flint River and back again.

In a civil suit filed this week, Michigan’s Attorney General accuses LAN of “botching” the job, with damaged pipes and lead tainted tap water the result.

Mayor Karen Weaver says it’s “absolutely unbelievable”.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of the Michigan Attorney General’s investigation into the Flint water crisis is threatening to take state agencies to court to force them to turn over documents.

Todd Flood has been leading Attorney General Bill Schuette's investigation into Flint’s lead-tainted water since January.

The probe has already resulted in criminal charges against three government officials.    A lawsuit has also just been filed against companies that acted as consultants to the city during the switch from Detroit water to the Flint River.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette announces civil suits against three companies involved in the Flint water crisis.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that his office has filed a civil suit against three companies involved in the Flint water crisis.

The suit names Veolia North America, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, and Leo A. Daly Co. as defendants.

Schuette said these companies "botched the job" when it came to providing safe drinking water to Flint.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

After months of wrangling, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is reluctantly agreeing to hook the city up to the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline for the city's drinking water.

Emergency managers made the decision to switch Flint’s drinking water to the KWA pipeline as a way to save money. Flint's city council gave its stamp of approval as well. But Flint’s new elected leaders wanted out of the deal because of the cost.

Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researchers are back in Flint this week.

This time they’re focused on the city’s hot water heaters.

Many Flint residents fear lead and other metals leaching from damaged pipes have accumulated in their hot water heaters making bathing hazardous. 

For the next few weeks, Virginia Tech researchers will be testing water heaters not only for lead, but also for bacteria, including Legionella.  

Could bankruptcy change the flow of Flint water?

Jun 18, 2016

 

Flint’s water war is intensifying, if that’s possible.

Genesee County officials backing the new Karegnondi Water Authority are warning that Flint could “lose everything”  -- if Mayor Karen Weaver turns her public second guessing into action and bolts from the city’s long-term contract with KWA.

Gov. Snyder speaks at a Flint news conference.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost six months since the Flint Water Task Force blamed the culture of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Flint water crisis.

The Task Force said a culture of quote “technical compliance” exists inside the drinking water office.

Its report found that officials were buried in technical rules – thinking less about why the rules existed. In this case, making sure Flint’s water was safe to drink.

Jodi Westrick/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, we sipped Brewery Becker’s “historic” ales and lagers while discussing a similarly historic topic: public trust in state government.

The Flint water crisis, gerrymandering, term limits, campaign money and more were on the minds of audience members and panelists at our Issues & Ale event.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new grant program is giving a hand to 30 Flint businesses struggling to recover from the economic effects of the city’s drinking water crisis.

The businesses range from a Coney Island to a beauty shop.      

Anthony Artis is an art dealer. He says the grant will ‘breathe new life” into his business, which sells art as far away as Boston.

fresh vegetables at a grocery store.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government will soon begin offering 17,000 Flint households monthly packages of healthy foods.

Working with local food banks and feeding organizations, USDA will provide an additional 14-pound nutrient-targeted food package, containing foods rich in calcium, iron, and Vitamin C. The intent is to limit the absorption of lead from Flint’s tainted drinking water.

Kevin Concannon is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He says the state has been helping since the city’s water emergency was declared earlier this year.

These are examples of drinking water pipes. The pipe on the left had no corrosion control in place, allowing metals to flake off and get into the water. The bigger pipe on the right (white coating), had phosphate corrosion control in place.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder’s office says new data show water quality improving in "at-risk" homes in Flint.

For months, the government has been testing the tap water in dozens of homes in Flint for lead.

After five rounds of testing, the "sentinel" testing has been expanded to include more homes most likely to have elevated leads levels. That includes homes:

·  with known lead service lines,

·  that had service lines the state paid to replace under the mayor’s Fast Start Program,

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, bids are due on contracts to start replacing Flint’s lead service lines.

But there are concerns about what’s in the contracts.

Service lines are a prime source for lead leeching into the city’s drinking water.  However, to date, the city of Flint has only unearthed 33 lead service lines. 

Mayor Karen Weaver’s Fast Start program is set to get back up to speed this week.  The city is using $2 million dollars from the state to pay for the next round of excavations. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has met an EPA deadline to upgrade equipment at the city’s water plant.

The EPA sent the city of Flint a letter one week ago saying the city had until today to install and have operational equipment to add additional chlorine and other chemicals to the city’s water supply.

Flint gets its tap water from Detroit already treated with chemicals to impede the growth of bacteria and other organisms. But chemicals, like chlorine, lose their effectiveness the longer they are in the system.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A small group of Flint pastors came to the state Capitol today to thank lawmakers for approving more money for Flint.

“We thank you Lord for the resources that have been allocated for Flint,” one of the pastors intoned beneath the Capitol dome around noon.

The pastors and others prayed in a small circle in the Capitol rotunda, the day after lawmakers approved $165 million for Flint’s water crisis. 

Reverend Ira Edwards calls the money “patchwork," but says he’s glad to see lawmakers moving forward.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city officials will require contractors pay a prevailing wage to workers who replace the city’s lead service lines.  Though for a time, that wasn’t going to be the case.

Next week, the city of Flint will receive bids on a project to remove up to 500 lead service lines.

When the formal request for proposals went out earlier this month, it contained a provision that workers would receive standard union wages. But Wednesday, city officials proposed an addendum that the prevailing wage would not be applied to this project.

Dave Reckhow is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water is still not safe to drink without a filter.

A lot of people have been asking whether the water is safe for bathing. Federal and state agencies say it is.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A pre-school art project in Flint is being praised by a world-renowned artist.

As an art project, the class at the U of M-Flint Early Childhood Center created a chandelier from thin strips from painted plastic water bottles.

The Center has plenty of water bottled because of Flint’s lead tainted drinking water crisis.

The two-year olds in the class are among those most at risk by Flint’s tainted drinking water.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is optimistic that Michigan’s budget plan for next year should be wrapped up in the next week or two. 

Time is running short. The state legislature is only has a few weeks until it is scheduled to adjourn for much of the summer and there is still a lot left to do.

The state senate is expected to tackle funding for Detroit public schools this week. Last week, the state house passed a $617 million package that Democrats complain does more to protect the interests of charter school operators than students.

Forty-eight years ago today, Robert Francis Kennedy died in Los Angeles, shot by a lunatic after Kennedy claimed victory in that year’s California Democratic primary.

Kennedy, in his final campaign in that truly horrible year, often stunned reporters by his willingness to speak truth to power.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - The chairman of a legislative committee investigating Flint's water crisis says it will take longer than initially projected to produce a report with recommendations.

Republican Sen. Jim Stamas of Midland had hoped to issue findings by now. But he announced Friday that discussions continue, and the report will be issued "in the future."

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