Flint: A Timeline

  • By Saad Amer
  • Posted 05.31.17
  • NOVA

Follow the emergency in Flint from the switch in water supply to today’s health crisis.

Running Time: 01:55


Flint: A Timeline

Remember the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan? It’s 2017 and many people are still living on bottled water.

To understand how this happened, we need to back up to the 20th century.

Lead pipes are laid to bring water to people’s homes.

Eventually, water is sourced from Lake Huron.

It’s safe to drink because they add a chemical that helps form a protective scale on the interior of the pipes. The scale keeps the pipe from corroding dangerous chemicals, like lead, into the water.

In 2011, Flint city managers see an opportunity to save money by building a new pipeline to Lake Huron. But, building that pipeline will take years.

So in the meantime, Flint switches its water source to the Flint River.

But they don't add corrosion control to the water, which would keep that protective scale intact on the inside of the pipes.

It’s not long before General Motors stops using Flint water because the water is corroding their parts.

Residents notice problems too.

The protective scale is flaking off. Corroding pipes turn the water brown and contaminate it with lead.

Residents complain of rashes and hair loss, but the local government, state government and the EPA all fail to take action.

The crisis continues to unfold, and in August of 2015, concerned Flint residents including LeeAnne Walters, a citizen scientist, partner with Marc Edwards, a researcher at Virginia Tech, to launch an investigation.

Together with Marc’s students, they collect samples from over 250 homes.

After multiple scientific studies, the lead crisis is no longer deniable and the city decides to switch back to water from Lake Huron.

But damage to the pipes and to the people of Flint has already been done and the population’s faith in the government is lost.

In December of 2015, a state of emergency is declared.

One month later, the National Guard is deployed to provide bottled water to the residents.

Aid has totaled to over $300 million dollars.

Now, new pipes are being laid across Flint.

Authorities predict the project will end by 2020, but Flint may never be the same.



Host, Writer, Producer, Editor
Saad Amer
Camera, Sound
Drew Gannon


Director and Producer
Llewellyn Smith
Kelly Thomson
Director of Photography
Vicente Franco

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