Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan
by Sydnee Yazzie '18
an emergency loan. To reduce the water fund shortfall, the city of Flint made the decision to switch water sources in 2014. While a new pipeline connecting Flint with Lake Huron was under construction, the city turned to the Flint River as a water source during the two-year transition. The Flint River had been the city's primary water source decades earlier, but Flint switched to Lake Huron in 1967, purchasing its supply through the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
On August 14, 2014, Flint announces fecal coliform bacterium has been detected in the water supply, prompting a boil water advisory for a neighborhood on the west side of Flint. The city boosts the amount of chlorine in the water and flushes the system. The advisory is lifted on August 20. On September 5, 2014, the city issues another boil water advisory after a positive test for total coliform bacteria. The presence of this type of bacteria is a warning sign that E. coli or other disease-causing organisms may be contaminating the water. City officials tell residents they will flush the pipes and add more chlorine to the water. After four days, residents are told they can safely resume drinking water from the tap. Over the course of a couple months, the city continues to advise residents to not drink the water and continue to flush the pipelines with chlorine. The city then warned residents that the water contained byproducts of disinfectants that could increase health risks and increase the risk of cancer.
In 2016, three people were prosecuted for misleading regulators about the contaminated water supply. Mike Glasgow was charged with tampering with evidence and filing false reports to the state of Michigan about the water quality. Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby were charged with misconduct, evidence tampering and altering water test results.
By early 2017, the water quality has returned to acceptable levels, however residents are instructed to continue to use bottled or filtered water until all the lead pipes have been replaced, which is expected to be completed no sooner than 2019.