Flint River Flotilla canceled due to river spill

The Flint River Flotilla will be replaced with an on-land flotilla pirate fest due to the spill that happened in the Flint River last month.
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 10:03 AM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The Flint River Flotilla will be replaced with an on-land flotilla pirate fest due to the spill that happened in the Flint River last month.

The flotilla pirate fest will be at Tenacity Brewing, located at 119 N. Grand Traverse St. in Flint, on Saturday, Aug. 6 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. The family-friendly party will be open to the public with a $5 admission.

“We have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2022 on-the-water Flint River Flotilla in light of ongoing questions surrounding the Flint River chemical spill that began on June 15th. We simply do not have enough time to ensure our concerns about the impacts of the chemical spill are answered and to plan a safe and fun event for the Flint community,” said Sarah Scheitler, corridor alliance manager for the Flint River Corridor Alliance.

Attendees can look forward to live entertainment, a costume contest, a treasure hunt for kids, sprinklers and water toys, food and beverages, and more at the flotilla pirate fest.

“A pirate party is not the same as the flotilla, but I think it will be a great time,” Scheitler said.

The event will raise funds to support the work of the Flint River Corridor Alliance around the river system in the city of Flint.

“We recognize the dedication of Flotilla supporters, volunteers, and staff, and we want to celebrate that. There will be no on-the-water event this year, but we hope this party will uplift our Flint River community and continue to spread the word about the importance of protecting the waters that belong to all of us,” Corridor Alliance Chair Kathleen Gazall said.

On June 15, a hazardous material was found in the Flint River. Officials are still testing the material to identify it.

Scheitler said the group is working on doing their own independent testing on the river, but will not receive results back in time for the festival. They have also requested information from EGLE on what the substance was that went into the water.

“We are optimistic that we’ll receive them soon. But again, not having them in hand, it’s hard to plan for an event where we will literally be asking people to get into the river with our bodies,” Scheitler said.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) confirmed the source of the spill came from the Lockhart Chemical Company.

The Lockhart Chemical Company facility identified the main breach in a storm sewer that resulted in the discharge, according to EGLE spokesperson Jill Greenberg.

A “no contact” order has been put on the river by the Genesee County Health Department. Residents should not fish, boat, or swim in the Flint River from Stepping Stone Falls to the Genesee County Line.

“We are very hopeful that the river will come back and will heal and we will all be able to enjoy it as a beautiful resource again,” Scheitler said.