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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.

Andrew Pennebaker / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state of Michigan is asking a judge to drop an order that requires water delivery in Flint for residents who don't have a filter.

In a court filing Tuesday, the state says tests show Flint water is in compliance with federal standards for lead. Separately, Virginia Tech expert Marc Edwards says his tests also show significant improvement.

Still, the state and Edwards both say residents should not drink unfiltered tap water.

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

Here we are at the one-year anniversary of the declaration of emergency in Flint, and we’re in the midst of an all-out tug-of-war between the state of Michigan and federal judge David Lawson.

Twice now, Judge Lawson has ordered the state to deliver bottled water to certain Flint residents.

But the state continues to fight that order.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A year ago today, Flint, Michigan’s mayor declared a state of emergency because of lead contaminated drinking water.  

That attracted national outrage and sympathy, as well as millions of gallons of donated water.

But a year later, donations have slowed to a trickle and unfiltered water is still unsafe to drink.

From their hometown streets to the halls of the nation’s capital, Flint residents have spent 2016 demanding drinkable water.

But as the year nears its end little has really changed.

Melissa Mays (right) says she won't feel the water is safe until every home in Flint is tested.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of Flint residents and activists is worried government officials are gearing up to declare their water safe to drink without the testing they feel is needed to back it up.

Numbers released this month from the state and Virginia Tech show lead levels are improving overall.

Technically, Flint’s water may already meet federal standards for lead in tap water. Researchers and officials from all levels of government will meet early next month to go over all the data and determine next steps.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has given Flint permission to build an approximately three mile section of water pipeline to link the city to the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline to Lake Huron.

The Flint segment of pipeline will supply raw lake water from the KWA pipeline to Flint's water treatment plant.

According to Bryce Feighner, chief of the MDEQ's Office of Drinking Water and Radiological Protection, this is an important step for Flint.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan and Google have teamed up to create an app and website aimed at helping Flint residents and officials deal with the lead-contaminated water crisis.

  Mywater-Flint was developed by computer science researchers at the university's Flint and Ann Arbor campuses with Google's technical and financial support.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress has approved a wide-ranging bill to authorize water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in Flint's drinking water. 

graph
MDEQ

New tests show lead levels in Flints water are back within federal standards.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the new data shows more than 96% of the samples are at or below the 15 parts per billion (ppb) federal lead action level. It’s the sixth round of sentinel testing that has produced results within the federal lead action level.

The MDEQ’s results come after new independent testing by researchers from Virginia Tech University, which also showed improvement in Flint’s lead tainted tap water.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Commercial water customers in Flint who haven’t paid their bills could be shut off next week.

On Thursday, the city posted shutoff notices at businesses that are delinquent on the water and sewer bills.

Businesses, including two apartment complexes, have been told to pay up by next Thursday or lose water service.   Local charities are making arrangements to assist tenants of the apartment complexes find new places to live if their water and sewer service is cutoff.   Water service was part of the rent people living at the apartment complexes were paying. 

At PechaKucha 20x20, speakers have to tell the audience "Why Flint?" using 20 images and 400 seconds.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Congress is moving forward with millions of dollars for the Flint water crisis.

The House approved $170 million to help Flint replace pipes and deal with health issues tied to the city’s lead-tainted tap water. 

The money is part of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes funds for many infrastructure projects across the U.S.

But it’s Flint’s ongoing drinking water crisis that drew the most attention to the legislation.  

“Flint needs action,” says Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, “this bi-partisan legislation delivers that.”

A lead service line removed from a Flint home. Lead service lines were useful because the metal is flexible and can bend - making installation easier.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It has been well over a year since the world learned that Flint was in the throes of an environmental disaster.

In the early months of this year, the Flint water crisis brought a steady stream of political leaders promising aid and vowing this would never happen again: President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, President-elect Trump.

So here we are, at year's end, and Flint hasn't seen a penny of that promised federal aid to help replace its damaged lead water pipes. And now there's a new curve ball that could threaten that federal funding.

Report shows declining road conditions in Michigan.
Michigan Infrastructure Commission

During his January 2016 State of the State address, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder apologized to the people of Flint for the water crisis in that city, saying "government failed you."

During that speech, he called for the creation of an independent commission to examine Michigan's infrastructure needs. He later signed an executive order creating the commission.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

A federal appeals court may weigh in this week on a lower court order that directs the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to start delivering water to homes without a working filter.

The city’s is still dealing with a public health crisis after it was found tap water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead. Recent tests by researchers with Virginia Tech show significant improvement in lead levels, but the use of filters is still encouraged.

Many Flint residents still rely on bottled water.
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
What caused the Flint water crisis?
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.   

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