The Flint Water Crisis

UPDATE: Apparently one of the old House office buildings has been found to have contaminated water with high levels of lead. Now, granted it's a very old building that's under renovations, but ironic right?


According to CNN more than 5,300 water systems are in violation of EPA regulations. It turns out that Flint is only the tip of the iceberg of a widespread problem all across America. 

It all began in 2013 when Flint, under control of an emergency manager, enacts an agreement to stop buying water from Detroit and join a new water authority that obtains its water from Lake Huron. Although this new source of water will only be available in three years, Detroit decides to stop selling water to Flint only after a year. 

Because of this, the city decides to draw water from the Flint river as an interim measure until the pipeline from Lake Huron is finished. 

In May of 2014, complaints start trickling in about the quality of the water despite the state department of environmental quality of Michigan saying that analysis of the water shows it meets state regulated standards. 

In October of 2014, a General Motors plant refuses to use the Flint river water due to it apparently rusting car parts. The city arranges for the factory to tap into a different line, but the residents are still required to drink the tap water. 

In January of 2015, Flint announces that the river water contains such a high level of trihalomenthanes, a disinfectant byproduct, that it is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Officials say though that residents with normal immune systems have nothing to worry about. 

In February of 2015, a consultant hired for forty thousand dollars by the city says that while the water is discolored and contains sediment, the water is still safe to drink. 

In June of 2015, activists file suit against the city hoping to force the city to stop using the river water. The city ends up getting the suit moved to a federal court where the judge denies a preliminary injunction. Later that month, an EPA expert sends an internal memo that is leaked by the ACLU saying that that the city of Flint failed to use chemicals to control lead leach form pipes into the water. 

In September of 2015, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Children's Hospital, compares blood samples among children in Flint that show a spike in lead poisoning has occurred since the switch from Detroit water to the Flint river water. 

In October of 2015, Flint switches back to Detroit water after Governor Snyder secures six million dollars to help the city transition back to its former water source. 

In January of 2016, Governor Snyder admits that Flint could be his Hurricane Katrina. "It's a disaster" he concedes according to NBC

The toxic water crisis is not "anomalous" a Natural Resource Defense Council report states according to The Guardian. Millions of Americans are served water that is in direct violation of the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations. Despite this widespread failure of water suppliers, the EPA only issued penalties in three percent of cases. 

Flint's water is now considered safe to drink if a filter is used, but this seems to be only the beginning. The EPA says that many water systems in violation of the their rules have brought their water up to standards, but much remains to be done.