A look back on the Flint water crisis

The city of Flint switches its water source from Detroit-treated Lake Huron water to the Flint...
The city of Flint switches its water source from Detroit-treated Lake Huron water to the Flint River.(WNEM)
Updated: Aug. 20, 2020 at 2:57 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The heavy price being paid by residents suffering in the Flint water crisis initially arose out of the city trying to save money.

The Flint Water Treatment Plant flipped the switch more than six years ago that set the stage for the disaster that still haunts the city.

That switch changed how the city of Flint received its water. The city, in deep financial distress and looking to cut costs, switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

The city failed to add corrosion controls to the tap water, which led to lead and other dangerous chemicals to leach from the old, worn pipes into the drinking supply and into the bodies of residents.

Residents soon reported their water tasted like metallic and appeared green or brown in color. A flood of reports followed of people falling ill, breaking out in skin rashes, suffering hair loss, and other symptoms.

Demonstrators continually confronted elected officials outside City Hall, but their pleas were dismissed along with those of Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.

She led other scientists and researchers in issuing warnings.

In the fall of 2015, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder admitted the water could be dangerous after being immersed in a flood of overwhelming evidence.

Testing turned up alarmingly increased lead levels in the blood of Flint children.

A massive bottled water distribution campaign began to bring in a deluge of donations. Which led to long lines and daily frustration at distribution points.

Flint’s water source switched back to Detroit-treated Lake Huron water in 2015. But with their health damaged and trust between residents and government destroyed, bottled water was still commonly used for cooking, drinking, and even bathing.

The city has been replacing lead service lines ever since. There are 2,500 homes that still have lines that need to be replaced.