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.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Defending Governor Snyder from Flint-related lawsuits and investigations could cost taxpayers up to $3.4 million. But a state lawmaker says public money shouldn't be used to defend him.

Snyder is extending contracts with two private legal firms who've been representing him. He notified the State Administrative Board on Tuesday: 

An illustration from the book "Learning, Recycling and Becoming Little Heroes" by Gale Glover.
Gale Glover

There are several people who have been called heroes in uncovering the Flint water crisis. You’ve heard those voices many times on this station. But a new book -- a children’s book -- makes the argument that kids are the heroes, because Flint kids have had to learn new ways to eat, drink, and live their lives.

The title of Gale Glover’s book is Learning, Recycling, and Becoming Little Heroes.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city’s water crisis has given many people in Flint sleepless nights.

Last night, the man who helped reveal the problem spent a sleepless night seeing if things are getting better. 

In the wee small hours of the morning, Virginia Tech water expert Marc Edwards took and tested water samples at the Flint home of Lee Anne Walters. It was in Walters’ home that the extent of the city’s water crisis was first confirmed.

Edwards tested the water hourly to see how chlorine and bacteria levels changed during the hours when water generally flows slower through the system.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials are concerned the city may not be able to pay for recommended fixes to the city’s water system.

Today, the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee responded to a list of 44 recommendations made by a special task force set up by Gov. Rick Snyder in the early days of the Flint water crisis.

“We trust that those recommendations are putting into motion things that need to be done in order to right-size … the system to be safe and drinkable,” says Harvey Hollins, the man appointed to oversee the FWICC. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 15,000 people will be tying on their running shoes tonight and tomorrow in Flint.   

This is the 40th anniversary of the Crim Festival of Races.

But this year’s event will be a little different.  

In response to the city’s water crisis, race organizers redirected nearly $40,000 in prize money for race winners to create free race entries for city residents.

Crim race director Andrew Younger says organizers want to use the festival to promote healthier lifestyles, especially for those directed affected by the water crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Department of Health and Human Services is asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court order blocking it from communicating with local officials in Flint.   

The protective order was issued by a Genesee County Circuit Court judge as part of the Attorney General’s investigation into possible criminal activity in the Flint Water Crisis. To date, nine current and former state and local government employees have been criminally charged, including several from the state health department. 

The city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People in Flint are wondering if they’ll ever have to stop worrying about proper filters, about the supply of bottled water, about giving kids a bath.

It’s been about a year since the lid blew off what the world knows now as the “Flint water crisis,” and the biggest development this week is another tug-of-war between Governor Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette over the Flint investigation.

But Daniel Howes of The Detroit News can see an upside in Flint’s struggles, as well as a challenge to Michigan at large.

Photo of Gov. Rick Snyder
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County health officials insist a court order restricting communication with state health officials is not preventing them from investigating cases of Legionnaires Disease.

The court order is related to the Attorney General’s investigation of the Flint water crisis. 

The Snyder administration is challenging the order.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou talk about political pushback on Melissa Gilbert's request to get her name off the November ballot and whether enough justice is being done in a $2.7 million school supplies kickback scheme in Detroit.

Lessenberry and Tribou also discuss the latest news from Flint, including the lead crisis and a hometown hero who brought home her gold medal.  


Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

One of the most vivid images of the Flint water crisis was the photograph of the then-two-year-old Sincere Smith. His little face, covered with a rash, was the cover of Time Magazine.

His mother insisted the rash broke out when the water changed to the Flint River, and that it got better once the family moved out of Flint.

The state of Michigan and the federal government have spent the past six months trying to figure out why so many people in Flint, like Sincere, have reported rashes and hair loss.

That report came out today.

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody joined Stateside to discuss its findings.

A federal report says improperly treated Flint River water was a “plausible” cause of skin rashes suffered by city residents.

People in Flint have been blaming painful itchy rashes on the city’s tap water. Many pinpoint the development of their skin irritation to the city’s switch to the Flint River as its tap water source. Now a panel of experts for the most part agrees.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Work begins this week on replacing damaged lead service lines in Flint.

There’s also a little science going on as well.

Three contractors hired by the city to replace up to 250 service lines are contacting Flint homeowners to get their permission to do the work.  

Wayne State University researchers will also be contacting the same Flint homeowners to ask if they can test the water before and after the contractors do their work.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of Congress remain on their usual summer break.     

Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee hopes money for Flint’s water crisis will be near the top of the agenda when Congress returns to work after Labor Day.

The Flint Democrat admits there are some other pressing needs that also need to be addressed, in particular the Zika outbreak and Opioid epidemic.

“Our effort will be to not get through another budget cycle, as we go into the fall budget deliberations, without addressing Flint,” says Kildee.

A report says as many as 15 people sent complaints to the Attorney General Bill Schuette's office more than a year before an investigation into the water crisis was launched.
Bill Schuette / Facebook.com

The Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) reported this week that Flint residents contacted Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office long before he launched an investigation into what became known as the Flint Water Crisis.

Democrats have accused the Republican of ignoring those complaints, and only beginning an investigation after news media coverage became so prominent.

Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas join Stateside for their weekly political roundup to talk about the issue.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Contractors will soon start replacing lead service lines at more than 200 Flint homes.  But first they need the homeowners’ permission.

The city has hired three companies to fully or partially remove hundreds of service lines.  Representatives of those three companies (WT Stevens Construction Inc., Johnson & Wood Mechanical and Goyette Mechanical) will begin fanning out in specific neighborhoods targeted because their residents are particularly at risk from lead exposure. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Six state workers accused of criminal wrongdoing in the Flint Water Crisis are getting their state paychecks once again - and Flint’s mayor is not happy that.

The six suspended state workers are charged with a total of 18 felony charges. They were initially suspended without pay, but their pay was reinstated this week.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver doesn’t think the six should be getting a state paycheck.

“It makes you question what people’s priorities are,” Weaver told reporters today.  

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou discuss accusations that Republicans are shielding Gov. Snyder from accountability in the Flint water crisis and a set of bills that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide in Michigan. Lessenberry and Tribou also look at the state's plan to warn struggling school districts they might be closed at the end of this school year and a former Michigan governor who was ousted by his own party.  


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Surgeon General says a long-awaited federal study of skin rashes in Flint should be released “very soon”.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was in Flint today meeting with local doctors and government officials.

He says they discussed many issues related to Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

But one issue that remains a major source of controversy and pain is skin rashes.

People in Flint have been complaining about itchy skin rashes for several years.  

freestockphotos

It happens every summer.  The rate of young children showing elevated blood lead levels goes up.  

That's in large part because kids spend more time in their houses, rather than at preschool and kindergarten.  They also spend more time outdoors where they can be exposed to sources of lead such as paint dust and soil.

But this year, in some cities and counties in Michigan, the spike was greater than usual.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Democratic Party leader is accusing Republicans of “shielding” Gov. Rick Snyder from accountability for the Flint water crisis.

Brandon Dillon is the Michigan Democratic Party chairman. At the first of a series of news conferences today, Dillon spoke in Flint about the need to not let the governor “off the hook.”

“Anybody, whether they were a state employee or a political appointee right up to the governor himself, need to be held accountable,” Dillon said, “And the Republican Legislature has so far has been shielding him at all costs.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Flint officials hope to ink contracts with three companies to begin removing lead service lines.

The service lines have been a major source of lead in Flint’s drinking water. But of the thousands of lead service lines in the city, to date, only 33 have been replaced.

Final agreements are expected to be signed this week with the companies hired to replace about 250 service lines. Plans are to fully replace 100 lines. Another 150 will involve partial replacement. Homeowners may be notified later this week that their service lines will soon be replaced.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal emergency declaration for the Flint water crisis ends Sunday.

One big change will be who’s paying for all the bottled water and filters being handed out to Flint residents.

The feds have been picking up 75% of the cost, with the state chipping in 25%.  

Now the state will have to pay 100% of the costs. 

KWA pipes
STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Earlier this week, Stateside's Cynthia Canty spoke with Wayne State University professor Peter Hammer about a paper he wrote which argued that the Michigan departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services weren't the only players in the events that led to the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water. 

Among the entities mentioned in that paper was the Department of Treasury, which made many of the final decisions leading up to the switch to the Flint River for a water supply. 

It also mentioned the Karegnondi Water Authority, the entity building a pipeline from Lake Huron to Genesee County.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's tough to wrap your mind around the price tag for Flint's lead-in-water disaster.

There's the $58 million the state of Michigan has already spent on filters, bottled water and medical care and testing.

There's the still-undetermined cost of replacing the water lines and pipes damaged by the corrosive Flint River water. 

But there are also social costs.

John Auchter
Auchtoons.com

ARTISTS POV:

In the cartoon series South Park, there is a classic episode titled "Gnomes." In that episode, a high-strung, over-caffeinated boy named Tweek is freaked out when gnomes repeatedly sneak into his bedroom at night to steal his underpants from his dresser. Tweek tells his fellow grade-school friends about the gnomes, but they don't believe him.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint may get good news about about lead tests for their water tomorrow, though many probably won’t believe it.

Thursday morning, researchers from Virginia Tech will release the results of the third round of testing on Flint’s drinking water. The researchers have conducted hundreds of tests on the tap water of the same dozens of Flint homes.

A year ago, the first round revealed the city’s tap water was contaminated with lead. 

The second round of testing conducted earlier this year showed improvement, but levels were still above the federal action level.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A judge has agreed to consolidate the criminal cases against eight defendants related to the Flint water crisis.

Genesee District Judge Tracy Collier-Nix agreed to consolidate the criminal cases.  The cases involve current and former employees with the departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services. The ruling only applies through the preliminary exam phase.

A spokeswoman with the Michigan Attorney General’s office calls the move “procedural”.  AG office spokeswoman Andrea Bitely says, ”All cases were consolidated for judicial economy.”

Michigan’s Treasury Department deserves blame for its role in the Flint water crisis, according to a new report.
Flickr user Ian Freimuth / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

As the Flint water crisis unfolded, most of the blame was heaped upon the state departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services.

But Wayne State University law professor Peter Hammer claims there’s another government agency at fault: Michigan’s treasury department. In a new report, Hammer faults Treasury for its willingness to bend rules when it came to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline, and its indifference to whether the city could pay to upgrade treatment plants and guarantee safe drinking water.

Tracy Samilton

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver's first State of the City address was a positive speech, full of expressions of gratitude -- and one pointed rebuke.

Weaver took pains to look on the bright side, while acknowledging that the city will be dealing with its damaged infrastructure and the after-effects of lead poisoning in kids for decades to come. 

"We have seen incredible compassion from people and organizations all across the country," said Weaver, "who have sent money, bottled water, and other resources to Flint."

But not everyone has pitched in, said Weaver.

The state will pay the full costs of bottled water and filters in Flint after the federal emergency ends August 14.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Free bottled water, filters and cartridges aren’t going anywhere. 

That’s the message the state is trying to send Flint residents ahead of the looming deadline of August 14, when the federal emergency declaration for Flint ends.

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