Residents of Flint, Mich. have struggled to obtain a water supply that isn’t contaminated with lead and other pollutants, dating back to when the crisis began and the city’s decision to draw from the Flint River in  2014.

This decision stemmed from the city having an accumulated deficit of $25.7 million in 2011, as city officials believed that switching from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Karegnondi Water Authority as its water source would save them money in the long-term.

What followed was gross negligence by officials on all levels in the state of Michigan; tens of millions of dollars in damages to the water system in Flint; felony charges and civil suits against a number of parties; and residents still struggling because of compromised water, which causes a number of mild and severe ailments/diseases. Below is  a comprehensive timeline of the major events that took place, based on a myriad of news sources:


Studies regarding Genesee County long-term water needs indicate that Flint River water can be safely treated but that it does not have enough capacity for permanent use (We Are One Michigan).


The Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) is involved in the $270 million project to provide and distribute water from Lake Huron to Genesee, Lapeer and Sanilac counties, as well as Flint. The project involved construction of pipelines and pumping stations (Detroit Free Press).


November 29 – Gov. Rick Snyder appoints Michael Brown as emergency manager of Flint after a review team shows that the city has an accumulated deficit of $25.7 million (Detroit Free Press).  


March 25 – Flint city council votes 7-1 to leave Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and go to Karegnondi Water Authority as its water source (We Are One Michigan).

April 1 – The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department issue a statement that Flint’s plans to go to KWA will not save the city money and will cause higher prices for other customers, calling it “the greatest water war in Michigan’s history” (Detroit Free Press).

April 11 – Andy Dillon, former state treasurer, authorized Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz to enter into a contract with the KWA (Detroit Free Press).

April 15 – The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department lays out alternatives to get Flint to reconsider its decision to switch to the KWA (Detroit Free Press).

April 16 – Kurtz signs contract for move to KWA; Jeffrey Wright, Genesee County drain commissioner, and Kurtz explain that Flint rejected Detroit’s offer because it hasn’t offered savings compared to the KWA (Detroit Free Press).

April 17 – DWSD provides notice of termination, effective one year later. DWSD and Flint cannot come to terms on an agreement (We Are One Michigan).

June 1 – The KWA begins construction on pipeline project.

June 26 – Kurtz signs a resolution to hire Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, an engineering firm based in Houston that has offices in Flint. The firm was hired to operate Flint’s water plant using Flint River water (Detroit Free Press).

June 29 – An all-day meeting is held at the Flint Water Plant, with Flint officials, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner’s Office and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in attendance, according to the City of Flint. Discussion included how feasible it is to use the Flint River as an interim water source until the KWA can deliver water (Detroit Free Press).

June – City of Flint decides to use the Flint River as a water source (We Are One Michigan).


April 1 – The DEQ issues a construction permit to make improvements to the Flint Water Treatment Plant (Detroit Free Press).

April 25 – Began using Flint water (We Are One Michigan).

May – Complaints start. State says not to worry.

June – Flint treats water for corrosion.

June – Dayne Walling dismisses comments about water (New York Times).

August 15-20 – City issued water boil (Crain’s Detroit).

September 5-9 – Water tested positive for E-Coli, prompting another boil-water advisory; chlorine is boosted by the city again (MSNBC).

October 1 – General Motors engine plant stops using Flint water, saying it rusts parts (MSNBC).

December 27 – GM switches off water hookup from Flint and gets water from neighboring Flint Township instead because of high chloride levels in the water (Detroit Free Press).



January 2 – Flint issues advisory warning that its water contains high levels of water-disinfectant chemicals. Sick and elderly people may be at risk (Mother Jones).

January 12 – McCormick, from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, offers to reconnect Flint at no additional charge if the city makes a long-term arrangement; Flint declines access to water from Detroit source, insists it’s safe (Mother Jones).

January 13 – Snyder names Jerry Ambrose as Flint’s new emergency manager; Earley is reassigned as emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools (MLive).

January 21 – Residents show up to a town hall meeting in droves, complaining that the water is causing myriad symptoms (Mother Jones).


February 3 – State officials pledge $2 million for Flint’s water system (Mother Jones).

February 4 – LeeAnne Walters shows video to the Flint City Council of her son developing rashes over his entire body, prompting tests for lead in her home’s water (Detroit Free Press).

February 18 – 104 parts per billion of lead detected in drinking water (New York Times).

February 25 – Walters contacts the United States Environmental Protection Agency regarding high lead levels in her home’s water.

February 27 – Miguel Del Toral, EPA expert, shows concern over lead test results. Stephen Busch, employee of DEQ, replies that Flint has an optimized corrosion-control program (Flint Water Study).

February – 40-member advisory committee is formed. Mayor Dayne says committee will ensure the community is involved in the issue (Associated Press).


March 3 – Second testing detects 397 parts per billion of lead in drinking water (Washington Post).

March 12 – Veolia, a consultant group hired by Flint, reports that the city’s water meets state and federal standards (City of Flint).

March 19 – Flint promises to spend $2 million on immediate improvements on its water supplies. The EPA’s Region 5 calls the DEQ about high lead levels in Walters’ house water, suspecting a lead service line as the cause for high lead levels (Examiner).

March 24 – Ambrose denies a City Council vote to “do things necessary” to switch back to the Detroit water system, calling the vote “incomprehensible” (Mother Jones).

March 26 – Genesee County Health Department investigates cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including Flint. EPA learns of the investigation and questions if there is a correlation between the cases of Legionnaires’ Disease and the switch to Flint River water.

March 27 – Flint officials say the quality of its water has improved and the water meets all state and federal standards for safety (Associated Press).


April 24 – The DEQ states that while it is monitoring lead and copper levels, it has no corrosion control in place.

April 29 – The state lifts Flint’s financial emergency designation and Ambrose leaves the emergency manager position (Lansing State Journal).


May 6 – Tests reveal high lead levels in two more homes in Flint (New York Times).


June 10 – The EPA recommends that the DEQ helps Flint manage issues with water-quality.  

June 24 – Del Toral writes in a memo to Thomas Poy, chief of EPA’s ground water and drinking water branch, that he is concerned over the absence of corrosion controls.

June – EPA warning of lead levels. Warning not made public (Detroit News).


July 1 – Susan Hedman suggests Del Toral’s report was premature. Snyder states that he asked the DEQ and the Department of Health and Human Services about Flint; DEQ told him that there is only one problem with a single house and it’s complying with lead and copper rules, while the Health and Human Services department stated that elevated blood levels are only following a seasonal trend. EPA regional Water Division Director Tinka Hyde states that Region 5 is concerned about the high lead levels (New York Times).

July 2 – EPA administrator tells Flint’s mayor that it would be “premature to draw on any conclusions” based on a leaked EPA memo regarding lead (Flint Water Study).

July 22 – Dennis Muchmore, Chief of Staff to Snyder, announces frustration over situation in Flint. $100 a day of anti-corrosives would have corrected the problem, city officials didn’t take action (NBC).


August 4 – Walters, community activists and pastors meet at the Capitol to discuss the water levels showing elevated lead levels with Snyder and other officials.

August 17 – Based on results showing lead levels at 11 parts per billion from Jan. to June 2015, the DEQ tells Flint to optimize corrosion control (Detroit Free Press).

August 23 – Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech professor, notifies the DEQ that he will begin studying Flint’s water quality and testing for lead levels.


September 2 – Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech professor, tested water and said not to drink the water. Soon after the DEQ disputed his results (NBC).

September 15 – Edwards determines that Flint River water is 19 times as corrosive as Detroit tap water (Flint Water Study).

September 17 – Jennifer Crooks, EPA program manager, said that DEQ officials could say they never received the Del Toral memo due to EPA’s request it not be sent to them, although four DEQ officials were copied on the report.

September 24 – Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha said levels of lead in children doubled/tripled (RT).

September 25 – Flint issues lead advisory warning, stating to only use cold tap water for cooking, drinking and in baby formula.

September 29 – Gov. Rick Snyder pledges to take action in response to the lead levels. First acknowledgement by the state that lead is the problem (Associated Press).


October 1 – The Genesee Health Department declares a public health emergency and tells residents not to drink the water despite previous lead advisory warning.

October 2 – Snyder announces that the state will spend $1 million to buy water filters and test water in Flint public schools (Crain’s Detroit). Muchmore advises his boss that Flint can reconnect to Detroit until the KWA is ready. A press release from Snyder’s office: “the water leaving Flint’s drinking water system is safe to drink but some families with lead plumbing in their homes could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets” (Washington Post).

October 8 – Snyder calls for Flint to go back to using water from Detroit’s systems again.

October 15 – Michigan Legislature and Snyder approve $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million from the C.S. Mott Foundation and the City of Flint to help switch its drinking water back to Detroit (Crain’s Detroit).

October 16 – Switches back to Detroit water. State officials say Hanna-Attisha is right.

October 18 – DEQ Director Dan Wyant tells Snyder “I believe now we made a mistake. For communities with population above 50,000, optimized corrosion control should have been required from the beginning.”

October 21 – Snyder announces an independent advisory task force will review water use and testing in Flint (State of Michigan).

October – DEQ Dan Wyant reports staff used inappropriate protocol for corrosion control (New York Times).


November 3 – Water is being reviewed by EPA. Peter Grevatt, the EPA’s Ground Water and Drinking Water director in Washington, calls for all water systems serving more than 50,000 people must have appropriate corrosion-control at all times. Voters elect Karen Weaver over incumbent Mayor Dayne (MLive).

November 4 – The final report from Del Toral states that all of his previous recommendations from earlier memos are being implemented in Flint.

November 16 – Lawyers announce a class-action lawsuit against city and state officials on behalf of Flint residents.

November – Four families filed class action lawsuit (Detroit News).


December 9 – Flint adds additional corrosion controls (Detroit Free Press).

December 14 – Flint declares a state of emergency (New York Times).

December 29 – Snyder accepts the resignation of DEQ Director Dan Wyant. Snyder’s Flint Water Advisory Task Force tells him that the DEQ’s response to the water crisis was “often one of aggressive dismissal, belittlement” and the DEQ bears all the responsibility of what happened in Flint (Crain’s Detroit).



January 4 – Genesee County declares a state of emergency.

January 5 – Snyder declares state of emergency (Crain’s Detroit).

January 12 – National Guard asked to send water (Detroit Free Press).

January 13 – After 10 deaths using city water tied to Legionnaire’s Disease with 87 total cases (CNN).

January 14 – Snyder asks President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency.

January 15 – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces investigation; 30 National Guard soldiers begin distributing water across Flint from fire stations.

January 16 – Federal government allocates $5 million in aid (Detroit News).

January 18 – In an interview with the National Journal Snyder states that the handling of the Flint water crisis reflects poorly on his leadership.

January 19 – Snyder states in an address that he will ask the Legislature to allocate $28 million to Flint. Snyder’s office is exempt from the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, but Snyder pledges to release all of his emails regarding the crisis. Weaver meets with Obama to discuss high lead levels.

January 20 – Snyder asks Obama to reconsider his denial of a federal disaster declaration. Snyder releases 270 pages of emails about Flint water crisis (Wood TV).

January 21 – EPA controlling Flint water collecting. Obama allocates $80 million to Michigan. Head of EPA region 5 Susan Hedman announces resignation, effective Feb. 1st (Detroit News).

January 22 – Snyder denies suggestions that Flint crisis was the result of environmental racism. The DEQ complies with the EPA order but questions its authority. Snyder suspends two DEQ employees. A public relations firm is hired to help with crisis management. New data suggests that 70 percent of those who contracted Legionnaire’s Disease had been exposed to the contaminated water two weeks before contraction (The Guardian).

January 24 – Revealed that Ed Kurtz, then Flint’s emergency manager, rejected using Flint River water. Unclear why use of Flint River water was later authorized (The Daily Beast).

January 25 – State announces that Red Cross and National Guard teams have delivered bottled water to each Flint house twice and will now dial back on the deliveries (Detroit News).

January 26 – Ambrose resigns from his position on Lansing’s Financial Health team (Lansing State Journal).


February 3 – Flint officials testify in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Polymer Solutions International).

February 16 – Snyder testifies in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, stating that “the Flint Michigan water crisis is a failure of government at the local, state and federal level” (Polymer Solutions International).


March 2016 – The International Bottled Water Association announces plans to partner with Nestle Waters North America, Walmart, Coke, and Pepsi for 6.5 million bottles of water to allocate to 10,000 Flint public school students through the end of 2016 (Polymer Solutions International).


April 20 – Schuette announces that Stephen Busch, Michael Prysby and Michael Glasgow will be criminally charged for tampering with Flint lead water tests (Polymer Solutions International).

April 2016 – Dr. Edwards advised that the lead levels in Flint are still not safe to drink (Polymer Solutions International).


June 22 – Schuette intends to file a civil suit against Veolia, and Lockwood, Anderson & Newman for negligence, and Veolia for fraud (Polymer Solutions International).


July 20 – Schuette criminally charges three individuals from the DEQ and three others from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for not releasing reports of unsafe lead levels in children (Polymer Solutions International).


August 2016 – Testing shows that Flint’s water meets federal guidelines in some areas (Polymer Solutions International).


September 4 – The U.S. Senate announces $270 million in grants to aid residents in Flint and other poor communities that suffer from lead-contaminated water. (New York Times) 


October 4 – Health department officials in Genesee County report an outbreak of shigellosis, a bacterial illness transmitted when people don’t wash their hands. An estimated 85 cases were reported in the county. (New York Times)


November 11 – U.S. District Federal Judge David Lawson orders the state and city provide citizens with four cases of water a week until they have a lead filter (Polymer Solutions International).

November 2016 – Three million bottles of water have been delivered to residents since the beginning of the crisis; multiple organizations continue to donate free water to residents of Flint (New York Times).


December 20 – Michigan officials announced felony charges against Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose over their roles in the public health crisis and delays in responding to resident’s complaints (New York Times).

Source Citation

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