Never-Ending Water Crisis and ‘Punishment Nightmare’ of Flint Michigan

This is a rehash of what was going on in Flint from 2014 onward. It is mostly what I had seen, read about, and wrote about from 2014 till 2022. Republicans were in control of the state during most of this time if not all of it. Attorneys will lay claim to 1/3rd of the payout. If the state gov had been more active in resolving the issue, I am sure the attorney fees would have been less.

Article by Gabrielle Gurley with a lot of input by a former Michigan resident.

The American Prospect

Veolia North America (VNA) offers no insights into its role as an advisor to Flint Michigan. This even after agreeing to a $25million in preserving the health of Flint, Michigan’s to avoid a second high-profile jury trial over its role as an adviser to Flint.

VNA stands by its work in Flint. It hired VNA as a consultant 10 months after the switch to the Flint River water, to conduct a one-week assessment. VNA made good recommendations, including a crucial one on corrosion control. That would have helped the City had those recommendations not been almost entirely ignored by the responsible government officials. VNA had no power over these decisions. VNA never operated the Flint Water Plant. 

This settlement follows the August 2022 mistrial in which a group of individual plaintiffs, represented by Mr. Corey Stern, failed to prove VNA’s liability before a jury of Michigan residents. In this 2022 trial, Mr. Stern unsuccessfully attempted to convince a jury of baseless allegations about VNA’s work in Flint. As the facts clearly showed, the water crisis was a failure of government, from Governor Snyder to the bureaucrats on the ground. 

VNA Reaches $25 Million Settlement Agreement with Flint Water Litigation Class, Veolia North America

At the time of this taking place, we were living in Michigan and about 25 miles west and south of Flint. Republican Rick Snyder was the governor. There was conflict over who should have done what then. Flint was not the wealthiest city in Michigan and it was heavily populated by minorities. Many of the homes in Flint were old and the piping into them was substandard. By that, I mean such materials would not be used today. Funds were a priority for Flint. Switching (2014) their municipal water supply source from the Detroit-supplied Lake Huron water to the Flint River was to lower costs for water.

Emergency Manager Darnell Early oversaw the decision to change Flint’s water source to the Flint River in what was supposed to be a short-term, cost-saving move in April 2014. Instead, the switch triggered the city’s water crisis, leading to elevated levels of lead, bacteria and total trihalomethanes in water and raising questions about a tie to Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in Genesee County.

Prosecutors claim Earley acted despite knowledge that the city’s water treatment plant, which had not been regularly used for decades, was not equipped to handle the job.

After decades of industrial dumping by GM and its suppliers, the Flint River became polluted. In the 1960s, Flint started buying water from Detroit. In the spring 2014, under financial pressure, a State-appointed emergency manager switched back to the Flint River. High levels of chlorides in the water corroded Flint’s lead pipes.

Flint’s Toxic Industrial Legacy, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

As said, the high levels of chlorides in the water corroded Flint’s lead pipes. This would not have occurred if Flint stayed with Lake Huron water. At the same time, one has to ask why the city and if not them, then the State of Michigan begin to change out the water-pipes for Flint a minority populated city?

Another issue rising is the results of the testing of water at various places.

The documents and emails were released by researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University through a Freedom of Information Act request and viewed by CNN.

According to Edwards, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the city of Flint collected 71 lead level samples from homes when they were required to collect 100. The final report from the Department of Environmental Quality however, only accounted for 69 of those 71 samples.

Edwards said those two discarded samples were “high-lead” and would have lifted the “action level” above 15 parts per billion. The public must be alerted and additional action must be taken if lead concentrations exceed an “action level” of 15 parts per billion in drinking water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

How tap water became toxic in Flint, Michigan

The report says the two discarded samples were removed from the list “for not meeting sample criteria.” In a statement, the Department of Environmental Quality says the rationale for dropping the samples from these two sites “appropriately met the requirements for invalidating samples per federal regulation.”

Edwards said the samples should have been taken from homes with lead pipes. The reports say they were, but Michael Glasgow, then-assistant supervisor of the Flint water plant, said this is not true. Glasgow told CNN the records were not complete, and the sampling teams did not know which homes had lead pipes.

“In essence, the state took an ‘F-grade’ for Flint water’s report on lead and made it into an ‘A-grade,’” Edwards told CNN.

The state and various Flint officials failed to take appropriate action. You can draw other conclusions. The reality is this was a city with many minority citizens.


Everyone walks away as explained by Gabrielle Gurley, American Prospect, Flint’s Never-Ending Water Crisis and ‘Punishment Nightmare.’

The most egregious feature of the crisis is the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency to own up to its own abdication of responsibility and compensate residents. In 2017, Flint residents filed a lawsuit against the EPA alleging that it could have declared an emergency as early as the fall of 2014, when residents first complained about discoloration, smells, and other symptoms of toxicity. The plaintiffs also claim that the agency failed to undertake a prompt investigation or inform the public about the risks of water contamination.

Instead, the agency has tried and failed to have the case dismissed for the past seven years, including as recently as February, despite the fact the agency did not issue an emergency order for testing and review until early 2016, prompting the EPA regional administrator to resign. The EPA inspector general later found that the agency could have issued an order seven months earlier.

Flint residents do have an avenue to state restitution, however, though it’s not been easy to come by. Michigan has devised an atypical and complex administrative review process to funnel those funds to them. In 2021, the state of Michigan agreed to a $625 million settlement, under which Flint children, certain adults, businesses, and water rate payers are eligible for payouts. USA Today/Detroit Free Press reported that the review process is ongoing with additional reconsiderations and appeals expected before disbursements get under way.

U.S. District Judge Judith Levy admitted, though the situation is “frustrating,” it prevents money from “go[ing] to the wrong people.” Certain attorneys, however, requested earlier payouts and will receive tens of millions of dollars before Flint residents, some of whom have been waiting years to repair broken water heaters or toilets damaged by corrosion. ~Thirty-one percent of the $625 million will go to attorneys.

Former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who apologized for the debacle in his 2016 State of the State address, was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty. The charges against him were ultimately dismissed in 2023. (Eight other people escaped criminal charges in 2019.) After setting up a cybersecurity firm last year, Snyder has moved on to fundraising for Republicans seeking seats in the Michigan House.

The city of Flint itself came in for some pointed criticism in March by a federal judge, courtesy of a finding of civil contempt for its failure to meet outreach, reporting, and inspection deadlines set in 2017 to replace lead water service lines in the city. The order noted that many residents “still do not have access to safe tap water. Because the City has yet to replace all water service lines, residents still are advised by the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Michigan not to drink tap water unless a special filter has been installed.”

City officials blamed the delays on securing approvals for stipulations concerning informational door hangers and winter weather. Judge David Lawson was not persuaded but did not levy penalties due to the city’s financial stresses, particularly since city officials dealt with some other issues that had been raised while the case was pending. It was the sixth time in six years that the plaintiffs have sought to get the city to live up to the original agreement.

Melissa Mays, a Flint water activist, told The Detroit News that 2024 is shaping up to be a replay of 2014 and 2015. She says . . .

“Here we are, at ten years, nobody’s in jail, there’s no criminal cases. This current city administration has done everything they could to get in the way to stop progress to get the last remaining lead service lines out, and they’re not doing anything to replace the [distribution] mains.

People’s plumbing, like ours, has been exploding in walls and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage, Nobody’s received anything from the civil cases. Houses are falling down, people are living with broken sewer lines in their homes. And then [there are] water leaks, black mold. We’re having to just live in this ongoing punishment nightmare.”

If the did not pay the attorneys the $millions earlier on, I wonder how quickly some of these issues would have been resolved.

I have watched the Flint water pollution play out since it started. I have listened to naysayers and the critics over the years too. I am good with rebuttals.