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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

The city of Flint is a small step closer to switching its drinking water back to Detroit.

Tonight the Flint city council unanimously voted to spend $2 million to return to Detroit’s water system.

Appropriately, the vote that is an answer to the prayers of many Flint residents, was punctuated by City Councilman Eric Mays saying “amen,” which drew murmurs of “amen” from the audience.

Living through the Flint water crisis

Oct 12, 2015
Laura MacIntyre, Amber Hasan (holding D.J.), and She'a Cobb
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Govenor Snyder last week announced the city of Flint will be switching back to Detroit water.

This comes after months of complaints by Flint residents; tests showing the water was unsafe; and most recently, reports of elevated lead levels in some Flint children. Jennifer White sat down with three women raising kids in Flint to hear their experiences.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials are still working out the details of returning to Detroit water.

Last week, Gov. Snyder announced a $12 million plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit water.   The state is putting up half the money.  The rest is coming from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the city. 

A year and a half ago, Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.  That was meant to be temporary while the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline was under construction.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant talks with the media last Thursday (Oct. 8) when the state announced its support for a move back to Detroit water.
State of Michigan / LiveStream

We should hear more specifics today about what needs to be done to return Flint to Detroit's water system.

Last week, state and local officials announced a plan to spend $12 million to reconnect Flint to Detroit's water system. But it’s not as easy as turning off one tap and turning on another. 

Flint schools to get water filters

Oct 9, 2015
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Every classroom in Flint will soon have a water filter.

ZeroWater, United Way of Genesee County and General Motors Foundation are donation 2,500 filters to Flint schools.

This announcement comes after tests show that four Flint Community Schools have lead levels above the federal action level.

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

The state plans to urge all schools to test for lead in the drinking water, after elevated lead levels showed up in the water in several schools in Flint.

Flint's situation is unique, in that the city switched to using more corrosive water from the Flint River last year.

When I learned the governor had reversed himself and was willing to help reconnect Flint to Detroit water, what first popped into my head was what Gerald Ford said the day Richard Nixon resigned and he became President.

He told us the system worked, and we were “a government of laws, not men.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are new concerns about lead in the water in Flint schools.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality tested the water in 13 Flint schools. 

MDEQ director Dan Wyant says tests at four schools came in above the federal action level for lead (15 parts per billion).

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Gov. Rick Snyder will ask the state Legislature to kick in half of the $12 million needed to switch the city of Flint back to the Detroit water system. The rest of the cost will be shared by Flint and the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is going back to Detroit water.   

The state, the city and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation together are kicking in $12 million to shut off the tap to the Flint River.

A year and a half ago, city leaders stood in Flint's water plant and raised plastic glasses to toast the city’s switch to the Flint River.

Eighteen months later, Governor Snyder has announced the end of the Flint River experiment.

Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Gov. Rick Snyder this morning held a press conference in which he said he supports reconnecting the city of Flint’s water supply back to Detroit’s water system.

Snyder said he will ask the Legislature to provide half ($6 million) of the $12 million bill to reconnect the system. The city of Flint will pay $2 million, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will contribute $4 million.

Mayor Dayne Walling said he expects the city to reconnect to the Detroit system in two weeks.

The Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement at 10 a.m. this morning (Oct. 8).

You can watch the announcement below (if it doesn't load, try this link):

He was joined by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Director of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at DHHS, and Ridgway White of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A panel of experts is recommending the city of Flint return to Detroit's water system.

As protesters marched outside Flint city hall chanting “lead free water,” inside local, state and national health and water experts agreed that change is needed. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s drinking water controversy has led to the cancelation of a festival celebrating the Flint River.

Tests link the corrosive nature of the river water to high lead levels in Flint tap water.  Complaints about the quality of Flint’s drinking water have been escalating since the city switched from Detroit water to the Flint River last year.

We should all be ashamed about what is happening in Flint

Oct 7, 2015

Just think about this: What if some emergency forced the state to temporarily appoint an emergency manager in a more affluent, mostly white area?

Pretend this happens to Birmingham in Oakland County, say, or Holland.

To save money, the emergency manager stops using the longtime clean water source and switches to a local river. When residents complain that the water smells and is discolored, the emergency manager tells them it is just as good as they were getting before.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest on the Flint water problem, how Michigan State University doesn't want to release  the names of student-athletes who were suspects in criminal cases to ESPN, and Lessenberry reflects on the life of Grace Lee Boggs.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today people lined up in the rain to get water filters in Flint.

The state is handing out 20,000 Brita filters to people at risk for high lead in their tap water.   Over the weekend, the Genesee County Health Department and United Way gave away 4,000 PUR filters.

“Our goal is to make sure that every single resident in the city of Flint, who needs a water filter gets one,” says Sheryl Thompson, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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

One of the biggest questions of the Flint water crisis centers on corrosion control.

As we heard from Virginia Tech water specialist Marc Edwards, federal rules dictate that communities have measures in place to prevent water from leaching lead out of old pipes.

The very thing that happened when the city of Flint stopped taking treated water from Detroit and began drawing its water from the Flint River.

So were corrosion control measures in place or not?

We spoke with Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith and Steve Carmody to sort this question out.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Experts will try to come up with a solution to Flint’s water problems tomorrow.

State and federal regulators, along with national experts, will take part in the meeting that will take place at Flint city hall Wednesday afternoon.

They will hear a presentation from Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards. Edwards is in New York City for a prior commitment, but he’s rearranged his schedule so he can make his presentation to the tech panel remotely. 

Sarah Razak / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Confused about corrosion control? We were too.

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically. Scientists believe the Flint River is part of the problem. Flint switched from Detroit’s water system and started pulling water from the Flint River last year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today was the last day for Flint residents to register to vote in next month’s mayoral election. 

But some people in Flint don’t want to wait for a change at city hall.

Chanting “Walling gotta go,” a small group of protesters marched in a circle outside Flint city hall. 

Protesters in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically, and scientists believe a new drinking water source is to blame. They're pointing to lapses in oversight from state regulators, who they say should’ve seen the problem coming.

Flint’s water problems began about a year ago, not long after the city stopped drawing water from Detroit’s system. To save money, Flint began getting its water from the Flint River.

With the hand-wringing over what appears to be short-term, hasty-decision-making in Flint (the move by a state-appointed emergency manager to try and save money by breaking away from Detroit’s water system and to, instead, pull water from the the highly corrosive Flint River), the city’s water crisis has now become a political crisis as well.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State and local officials Friday unveiled a plan for fixing Flint’s water problems.

But one demand of many city residents is not on the list.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality director Dan Wyant addressed what he sees as the critical problem in Flint. 

Then MDEQ Director Dan Wyant at a press conference last fall.
screen grab / MLive UStream

Researchers found elevated lead levels in Flint's drinking water, and pediatricians found that the water was likely poisoning some kids in the city. Today, the state revealed that it too had tested kids and their findings seem to be consistent.

Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical executive, said that before the city switched to Flint River water, kids' lead levels in two "high risk" zip codes were 2.7 times higher than the rest of Genesee County. Now they're 3.2 times higher - a statistically significant difference.

One of the things I most dislike about most politicians is their unwillingness to admit when they’ve screwed up.

Take Dennis Williams, the leader of the United Auto Workers union. He and his lieutenants were so out of touch with the membership that they negotiated a contract that the angry workers rejected by almost two to one.

Yesterday, when the results were in, Williams said. “We don’t consider this a setback,” we consider this “part of the process.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The White Horse Tavern is turning alcohol into water these days.  All to help the Flint school district. 

White Horse tavern owner Chris Poulos offered me a free drink as I sidled up to the bar.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Recent studies have shown blood lead levels in Flint children have doubled, even tripled in some parts of town, since the city started using the Flint River as its drinking water source. 

So today Genesee County officials declared a public health emergency.

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder admitted that the decision to switch the city of Flint's water supply from Detroit's system over to the Flint River was not well planned.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is, is there are probably things that were not as fully understood as when that switch was made,” Snyder said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fewer and fewer people are paying their water bills in Flint. 

Flint’s water bill collections are down by $1.75 million since a judge issued an injunction in August rolling back rates and ordering an end to disconnections.

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