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Flint

Former Flint mayor Dayne Walling joined us in-studio to discuss the Flint water crisis
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

The Flint water crisis is complicated, and more details are being revealed nearly every day.

Dayne Walling has lived it from the beginning. Walling was the mayor of Flint from 2009 to 2015, the period of time when crucial decisions were made regarding Flint’s water supply.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

We've finally got the witness list for who's going to be called to testify before Congress next week at a hearing on the EPA's role in the Flint water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In Flint today, top scientists from all three University of Michigan campuses met to discuss future research into the city’s drinking water crisis.

U of M is putting up $100,000 in seed money to help get the research started. University President Mark Schlissel is encouraging scientists from Dearborn and Ann Arbor, as well as Flint, to see what kinds of research opportunities might be worth pursuing in the wake of the crisis. 

U of M-Flint Chancellor Sue Borrego says now’s the time to coordinate work being conducted on Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

By now, everyone in the nation knows about Flint, the aging industrial city that was switched to water that turned out to be toxic, by an emergency manager whose main priority was to balance the books and save money.

But while this wasn’t technically a failure of infrastructure, there is no doubt that in many cities, especially older industrial towns like Flint, things like ancient water and sewer pipes, not to mention roads and bridges, are wearing out.

Marc Edwards alerts the people of Flint that they should take precautions when dealing with drinking water in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University was one of the first the raise the alarm about staggeringly high levels of lead in Flint water.

For that, he was ignored by staff at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

That was last summer. Now, Edwards is returning to Flint, bringing his expertise on water treatment and corrosion to the new Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Council.

flickr user Bart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state Senate today unanimously approved $28 million to help Flint with its water crisis. Three million of that has been set aside to “aid with utility/unpaid bills issues.”

Whether or not to pay for water they’re unable to use has been a big question for Flint residents, whose water rates are among the highest in Michigan. Just today residents and activists protested at Flint City Hall, calling for a moratorium on water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state is launching an effort in Flint to recycle the tens of thousands of water bottles and filters pouring into the city. By one estimate, only about 16% of Flint residents routinely recycle.  

The city’s lead-tainted drinking water crisis is creating another problem with what to do with donated water filters and bottles.

State and local officials are teaming up with local companies to give Flint residents more ways to dispose of used water bottles and filters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many people in Flint are not paying their water bills these days.

Now there’s a push to make sure they don’t have to.

Lynna Kaucheck with Food & Water Watch handed a stack of petitions to Flint city administrator Natasha Henderson this morning in the hallway outside the mayor’s office.

“Calling on you to issue a moratorium on drinking water bills,” said Kaucheck.

The online petition asking the city to stop charging for water drew 21,000 signatures in a day. 

Kaucheck says the city should stop charging for water people can’t afford or drink. 

user Bjoertvedt / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Snyder will not be called to testify at a Congressional hearing next week looking into the Flint water crisis.

Instead, the spotlight will be on the EPA.

On Thursday, the Republican leadership of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced the hearings would be focused on “Examining the Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan.”

Civil rights hearings planned on Flint water crisis

Jan 27, 2016
Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will investigate whether the Flint drinking water crisis has violated the civil rights of Flint residents. 

The bipartisan commission unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to hold at least three public hearings, the first of which is expected to take place within 30 days.

"The Commission decided that under the state constitution, as well as the Elliott-Larsen Act, to conduct hearings to try to learn more if discrimination may have occurred," said commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Four of the nation’s largest bottled water distributors are pledging to donate millions of bottles to children in Flint.

The city’s drinking water is contaminated with lead.   And lead can have a detrimental effect on the health and development of young children.

Walmart, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle say they will give more than six million bottles of water to take care of the needs of 10,000 Flint area school-aged children through this year.

Kathleen McLaughlin is the president of the Walmart Foundation. She says there are still some issues to be worked out.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met behind closed doors with the national president of the NAACP in Flint Tuesday night. 

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said he, Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had a “frank” discussions about Flint’s drinking water crisis. 

He called his closed-door meeting with the governor and the mayor a “robust conversation about specific reforms.”

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, as well as Congressman Dan Kildee, are asking Washington to help enroll all eligible Flint kids in Head Start.

The three sent a letter this week to Blanca Enriquez, director of the Office of Head Start, asking that the program be made available to all eligible children in Flint to help mitigate the damage of the lead-tainted water.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Mark Masters of TDM Realtors in Flint says it's hard to keep tenants and even harder to attract new ones.

"I mean one of the first questions I get, it used to be 'is that a good neighborhood' and now it’s 'is that Flint water,'" said Masters.

Last spring he started getting calls from some of the company’s 300 renters that something wasn’t right with their water.

Steven Depolo / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Water donations flooding into Flint means a lot of empty plastic bottles.

That's why a local environmental company is offering to recycle residents' water bottles, starting today.

Young's Environmental Cleanup, Inc. is an emergency response and environmental remediation provider with offices in Flint and Grand Rapids.

The company will act as a collection point and has partnered with Averill Recycling and Great Lakes Recycling of Flint to recycle the bottles.

The lawyer in charge of state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation, Todd Flood.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After many months of finger-pointing, there’s an effort underway in Michigan to determine just who’s at fault for the city of Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Michigan’s Attorney General has now appointed a special counsel to investigate how the city’s tap water became contaminated with lead.

People in Flint have spent nearly two years drinking bottled water.

For almost as long, there’s been a demand that someone be held accountable for the decisions that left their tap water undrinkable.

Today, Michigan’s Attorney General took a step in that direction.

Program Director Tamar Charney departs Michigan Radio after 19 years for a new position at NPR.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It's so easy to think that the big important news stories are the ones happening in cities like London or Washington DC or countries like Syria and China.

I’ve heard many people dismiss local news as parochial “not in my backyard” disputes or worse, merely coverage of the latest house fires. But there are many local stories that should, and do, become national and even international news when they are told right.

The water crisis in Flint is an example.

The Snyder administration is now in over-drive to create both the perception and the reality that the state is engaged in making rapid progress in dealing with the Flint water crisis.

Izumi Japanese Restaurant / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Business is slower than usual for some restaurants in Flint, and owners say it's because of the water crisis.

Scott Ellis is the executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars, restaurants and taverns.

He says he has heard concerns from many restaurant owners about the impact of the ongoing emergency.

"First of all, business is down," Ellis said. "They're using Flint water, they're afraid if all the precautions were taken to make the water clean."

Flint families tough it out amid contaminated water

Jan 23, 2016
Mercedes Mejia

Like many residents of Flint, She'a Cobb doesn't trust the water that comes out of her faucets. So now, every day is a carefully orchestrated one — from brushing her teeth to taking a shower.

Cobb is a 31-year old bus driver who lives with her daughter and mother in Flint, a struggling blue-collar town where 40% of people live in poverty.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  DETROIT (AP) - The head of a Flint hospital where Legionella bacteria were discovered says the Flint River was suspected as the source of the contaminant that causes Legionnaires' disease.

  Don Kooy says McLaren hospital spent more than $300,000 on a water treatment system and turned to bottled water.

  The state says at least 87 Legionnaires' cases, including nine deaths, were confirmed throughout Genesee County during a 17-month period - a major spike. But officials are unsure about a firm link to the Flint River.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Peanut butter and banana pockets. Chocolate strawberry French toast.

Those are a few of the recipes in Hurley Medical Center’s nutrition guidebook for Flint families dealing with lead.

Right now there’s a big push to get healthy food to Flint kids, because the right diet (iron, calcium, lots of Vitamin C) can actually reduce the effects of lead on the body.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s governor has promised people living in Flint he will fix their tainted drinking water.

But many residents in the city of 100,000 don’t believe him. There’s increasing distrust as concerns about lead in the tap water have worsened in the last six months.

During his State of the State address last night, Gov. Rick Snyder apologized. He said he was sorry for mistakes that allowed corrosive river water to damage Flint’s water pipes – which allowed lead to leach into the city’s tap water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint State Representative Sheldon Neeley would like to hear Governor Snyder commit to spend part of a budget surplus to address Flint’s water crisis during his State of the State address. 

Last week, state budget officials estimated Michigan will have a $575 million, one-time revenue surplus this year.

Neeley knows where he would like the money to be used: Flint’s water emergency.

It’s practically a political certainty that Governor Rick Snyder will announce a plan for cleaning up the Flint water crisis tomorrow evening when he delivers his sixth State of the State address.

Flint water takes front seat

State of the State speeches tend to be laundry lists of accomplishments and ambitions, but it’s what the Governor says about Flint, and how the state is going to tackle the water crisis it helped to create, that will command the most attention.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Even as President Obama was signing the disaster declaration for Flint and Genesee County, hundreds of protesters were gathering on the front lawn of Flint city hall.

They chanted “Snyder’s gotta go” and carried signs calling for Michigan’s governor to resign and/or be arrested for his role in Flint’s water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan National Guard is more than doubling its footprint in Flint.

Major General Greg Vadnais says the number of guardsmen handing out bottled water and filters at five fire stations will increase from 32 to 70 on Sunday.  

Vadnais says after staffing the fire stations for a few days, they realized the need for more boots on the ground.

President Obama.
Pete Souza / White House

President Obama made the declaration after a request from Gov. Snyder for federal help in responding to the drinking water crisis in the Flint area.

People in the city and in outlying areas served by the city’s water system have been urged not to drink the water since October 1, 2015.

 

Attorney General's office

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is launching an investigation into Flint’s water crisis.

Flint’s drinking water was contaminated with lead after the city’s tap water was switched to the Flint River in 2014.

The Attorney General says his investigation will see if any state laws were violated. 

Governor Snyder has acknowledged that mistakes were made that allowed corrosive Flint River water to damage the city’s pipes which in turn leeched lead into the water.

Schuette promises his investigation will proceed “without fear or favor.”

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 Flint water crisis has taken a new turn, with Governor Snyder's announcement that there's been an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint.

Genesee County had 87 cases of Legionnaires', with ten deaths between June 2014 and November 2015. Prior years only saw between six and 10 cases.

The outbreak started soon after the city switched to water from the Flint River, and ended after it went back to Detroit water.

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