The Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan

IYSSE meeting draws together Flint, Puerto Rico, Kentucky workers to discuss water crisis

By our reporter, 23 February 2018

The meeting provided a forum for workers and youth to discuss the root causes of the mounting water crisis in the US and internationally and a socialist perspective to fight back.

Students and workers call for the unity of the working class following meeting on Flint water crisis

By our reporters, 23 February 2018

Students and workers who attended the meeting spoke to the WSWS and expressed their support for the struggle of workers in Puerto Rico, Kentucky and Flint.

The coal slurry disaster of 2000

The story behind the water crisis in Martin County, Kentucky

By Carlos Delgado, 19 February 2018

The water crisis in eastern Kentucky can be traced back to the bursting of a coal slurry dam owned by Massey Energy in 2000.

Kentucky residents face water shutoffs as UK study exposes health dangers from leaking pipes

By Warren Duzak, 13 February 2018

After losing service due to collapsing infrastructure, Martin County residents now face shutoffs and a 50 percent rate hike for contaminated water.

Testimony reveals depth of recklessness in decision to use outmoded Flint water plant

By James Brewer, 12 February 2018

Pretrial hearings last week shed further light on the criminally negligent character of the water scheme imposed on the people of Flint, Michigan.

Democratic mayor holds sham community forum on Flint water crisis

By Will Morrow, 9 February 2018

Police were stationed at entrances to the meeting as residents were informed they would have no opportunity to speak or ask any questions.

Political in-fighting escalates as Cape Town, South Africa approaches “Day Zero” water shutoff

By Genevieve Leigh, 5 February 2018

The Democratic Alliance fears its inability to address the water crisis will lead to a loss of support ahead of the 2019 elections.

Jeff Daniels’ Flint: A drama about the former industrial city

Is it “all about the money” or all about race?

By David Walsh, 2 February 2018

Jeff Daniels’ drama is currently being performed at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan, some 60 miles west of Detroit. The play will run until March 10.

Flint, Michigan court hearings highlight widespread collusion in water crisis cover-up

By Matthew Brennan, 30 January 2018

While none of those criminally charged in the Flint water crisis have yet been brought to trial, preliminary court proceedings have revealed a network of dirty operatives.

Cape Town, South Africa to become first city in the developed world to run out of water

By Genevieve Leigh, 29 January 2018

Local government in Cape Town, South Africa continues to implement drastic water saving measures in a last-ditch attempt to stave off a complete water shutoff.

“The water is milky white and smells like bleach”

Kentucky residents told it may take a decade to get clean, safe water

By Jerry White, 22 January 2018

Working class residents of the former coal mining area have had no water or only intermittent service for weeks.

“The state trooper choked me because I was telling the truth”

Former coal miner in Eastern Kentucky speaks about police assault at public meeting

By Sheila Brehm, 17 January 2018

Gary Michael Hunt, a former coal miner who was assaulted by a state trooper for criticizing local authorities about the lack of safe water for area residents, spoke with the WSWS.

Flint City Council backs 30-year water deal that ensures bondholder profits

By James Brookfield, 28 November 2017

The council passed a motion to sign a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority for the provision of water services to Flint.

Nearly 4,000 US communities have higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint

By Jerry White, 16 November 2017

Reuters has identified 3,810 neighborhoods nationally where child lead poisoning rates are at least double those found in Flint, Michigan during the height of that city’s water crisis.

Recall election fails to oust Flint, Michigan mayor

By Sheila Brehm, 11 November 2017

Last Tuesday’s mayoral election in Flint was marked by mass abstention after three-and-a-half years of an ongoing lead water crisis.

Flint: How much of the social crime does the film present?

Lifetime movie on the water disaster will air October 28

By Joanne Laurier, 27 October 2017

The film, directed by Bruce Beresford, was inspired by the ongoing Flint water crisis and bases itself more immediately on a February 2016 Time magazine report, “The Poisoning of an American City.”

Court testimony exposes governor’s lies about Flint water crisis

By Sheila Brehm, 9 October 2017

The matter arose during a preliminary hearing concerning the first of 13 officials facing criminal charges over the Flint catastrophe.

As Detroit mayoral election approaches, water shutoffs continue amidst pervasive poverty

By Debra Watson, 6 October 2017

As the election approaches, persistent and shocking levels of poverty in Detroit and continuing residential water shutoffs belie claims that the city is making a comeback.

Study: Flint’s poisoned water caused drop in number of healthy pregnancies and births

By Sheila Brehm, 23 September 2017

Due to lead-poisoned water in Flint, fertility rates dropped, and the number of women who miscarried, had a stillbirth, or delivered babies with health problems, increased.

Democratic gubernatorial town hall in Flint: No policies to address lead poisoning disaster

By our reporters, 21 August 2017

The event was a stage-managed exercise in political evasion.

SEP public meetings: “Flint and the Grenfell fire: Social crimes against the working class”

26 July 2017

The SEP and the IYSSE are holding public meetings Thursday in Detroit and Flint, Michigan to review the experience of the Grenfell fire tragedy in London and its broader implications for the working class.

Michigan researchers investigate connection between Flint water crisis and high infant mortality rate

By Carlos Delgado, 18 July 2017

The city of Flint saw a significant increase in rate of infants who died before their first birthday in 2015, when the lead-in-water crisis was at its height.

Banks, bondholders driving the legal conflict over Flint’s water supply

By Sheila Brehm and Jerry White, 6 July 2017

Few Flint residents believe the claims of the governor and mayor that the 30-year deal to buy water from Detroit is motivated by concerns for the people of Flint. But what are the real issues behind the legal conflict with the City Council?

The human cost of capitalism: The Grenfell fire and the poisoning of Flint, Michigan

By Jerry White, 30 June 2017

In both London and Flint—and cities throughout the globe—modern-day capitalism is condemning the working class to impossible conditions and an early grave.

Flint residents again face home foreclosures if they do not pay for poisoned water

By Jerry White, 28 June 2017

The unelected financial review board decided Tuesday to overturn the one-year moratorium on imposing tax liens on residents who do not pay for the city’s lead poisoned water.

Flint, Michigan residents speak about London fire

By Sheila Brehm and Phyllis Steele, 28 June 2017

Residents in Flint, Michigan, said the Grenfell Tower fire, like the lead poisoning of their city, was the result of politicians subordinating the needs of the population to private profit.

Michigan health director named in latest round of charges over Flint water crisis

By Shannon Jones, 15 June 2017

The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the highest ranking state official yet to be named in the ongoing official investigation, is facing manslaughter charges.

Theater professionals address the Flint water disaster

Public Enemy: Flint, an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play: A remarkable artistic event

By Joanne Laurier, 15 June 2017

A version of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (1882) was performed last week in the devastated city of Flint, Michigan, as a commentary on the city’s water crisis.

Interviews with actors in Public Enemy: Flint

By Joanne Laurier, 15 June 2017

Several members of the cast of a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (1882), performed last week in Flint, Michigan, spoke to the WSWS.

Flint, Michigan home fire kills father and two children

By Carlos Delgado, 14 June 2017

A father in his 50s and two teenage children are the latest victims of fatal house fires in the economically ravaged city.

Democrats use Flint residents as props to push phony infrastructure plan

By Sheila Brehm, 10 June 2017

A number of protest groups are promoting an infrastructure program advanced by Congressional Democrats to divert growing anger over the lack of resolution to the water crisis.

State official resigns after using racial slur, expressing contempt for Flint and Detroit workers

By Shannon Jones, 8 June 2017

In the audio recording, Stair rants at length against working class residents of Flint, black and white, whom he calls “f**kin’ deadbeats.”

Lead-tainted drinking water found throughout San Diego schools

By Jake Dean, 7 June 2017

A majority of schools examined so far have tested positive for elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

Poisoned Water: “NOVA” science series broadcasts segment on Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 3 June 2017

The Public Broadcasting Service presented an engaging and informative documentary on the science behind the Flint water crisis.

Almost 10,000 Detroit households face water shutoff

By James Brewer, 1 June 2017

Some 400 households had their water service disconnected in the one-week period following the city’s resumption of water shutoffs earlier this spring.

“We’re being punished for not being able to pay the city for the poison”

Flint residents speak out on water crisis

By Jerry White, 19 May 2017

With popular anger reaching a boiling point, city officials passed a temporary moratorium of foreclosure threats against residents not paying for the poisoned water.

Flint workers denounce foreclosure threat over water bills

By Jerry White, 18 May 2017

Angry workers on Wednesday confronted the Flint City Council, which voted to temporarily halt plans to put tax liens on homes with unpaid water bills.

Water bill deadline looms for 8,000 Flint households

By James Brewer, 17 May 2017

Despite the fact that the water is still not safe to drink three years after the city began pumping foul, improperly treated water from the Flint River into homes, authorities are forcing residents to pay up or face eviction.

Waste plant polluting southwest Detroit neighborhoods

By Kathleen Martin, 15 May 2017

The new biosolids waste facility has violated one-hour EPA sulfur dioxide emission standards over 2,500 times in the last year.

Detroit water shutoff crisis intensifies under bill repayment scheme

By Kathleen Martin, 10 May 2017

One in six residential units in the city of Detroit are facing immediate shutoffs while national projections estimate that one third of the US will not be able to pay their water bills by 2020.

Three years after the lead poisoning of Flint, residents face water shutoffs, home foreclosures

By Jerry White, 10 May 2017

Three years after the decision to switch Flint’s water supply to the polluted Flint River, nothing has been done to address the catastrophic health consequences of the lead poisoning of tens of thousands of working-class residents.

“After compromising our health, they want to kick us out of our homes”

8,000 Flint residents face foreclosure for failing to pay for poisoned water

By Jerry White, 5 May 2017

Letters sent out by the city said outstanding bills would have to be paid by May 19 or tax liens would be put on homes that could result in residents losing them next year.

“The politicians in Flint, Lansing and Washington—they’re all for capitalism”

Retired GM worker speaks on three years of the Flint water crisis

By Lawrence Porter, 27 April 2017

A retired autoworker reflects on three years of the Flint water crisis.

“People were being arrested for nothing”

Flint residents denounce arrests at town hall meeting

By our reporters, 26 April 2017

Six Flint residents were arrested for exercising their freedom of speech at last week’s public “Town Hall” meeting.

“What they did to this city is criminal”

Flint residents march on third anniversary of lead poisoning

By Larry Porter, 26 April 2017

Hundreds of Flint residents marched to City Hall Tuesday to protest the failure of federal, state and local officials to address the disaster they all had a hand in creating.

Police provocation at Flint Town Hall results in six arrests

By James Brewer, 22 April 2017

The meeting, called as a follow-up to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver’s announcement on the future of the city’s water system, was held at a church with heavy police presence.

Flint mayor proposes to stay with Detroit water

By James Brewer, 20 April 2017

In a surprising reversal, Mayor Karen Weaver declared it “too risky” to switch Flint’s water source for the third time.

$87 million Flint water line settlement announced

By James Brewer, 31 March 2017

While the news media is reporting the settlement in glowing terms, citing many who declare it to be a “victory for Flint,” many residents view the deal as too little too late.

Flint, Michigan begins water shutoffs

By James Brewer, 25 March 2017

:Residents suspect that the announcement that lead levels have improved is now being used by authorities to sweep the water crisis under the carpet.

As officials end subsidies and resume water cutoffs

Michigan blames Flint water crisis on racism: Part two

By James Brewer, 4 March 2017

A 138-page report on the Flint water crisis delivered on February 7 covers up the class issues in the poisoning of the city.

As officials end subsidies and resume water cutoffs

Michigan blames Flint water crisis on racism: Part one

By James Brewer, 3 March 2017

A 138-page report on the Flint water crisis delivered on February 7 covers up the class issues in the poisoning of the city.

Boil advisory issued in Detroit following water system malfunction

By Kathleen Martin, 2 March 2017

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department issued a boil water advisory Tuesday due to concerns over bacterial contamination affecting a large section of the city.

As Michigan cuts off water bill credits, Flint officials announce shutoffs

By James Brewer, 17 February 2017

An improvement in water lead levels is the pretext for cutting off water bill subsidies to Flint residents and resuming water shutoffs.

Outpouring of anger at Flint town hall meeting

By James Brewer, 13 January 2017

An overflow crowd of anxious and angry residents wasn’t buying the rosy scenario presented by officials on the Flint water crisis.

Key player in Flint water crisis issues defensive letter to “community leaders”

By James Brewer, 31 December 2016

The CEO of the pipeline project that lobbied for Flint to sever its connection to the Detroit water system issued a defensive open letter in an apparent attempt to preempt charges.

Many US communities face worse lead contamination than Flint

By Shannon Jones, 31 December 2016

Some 1,100 communities investigated by the Reuters news agency had water with lead levels at least four times those found in Flint, Michigan.

Four prominent officials criminally indicted in Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 21 December 2016

The heart of the case against the four defendants is the fraudulent use of the state’s Home Rule City Act emergency bond clause.

Report documents widespread failure of US communities to test water for lead

By Shannon Jones, 17 December 2016

Some four million people in the US live in communities where local officials either do not test water supplies for lead or conduct the tests improperly.

US Navy punishes family that revealed Flint water poisoning

By Zac Corrigan, 2 December 2016

A family fighting to expose the Flint water crisis say they have been subjected to retaliatory intimidation and abuse by the US Navy.

Flint residents threatened with water shutoffs

By Carlos Delgado, 21 November 2016

The shutoff notices come as the state challenges a federal order to begin door-to-door water delivery.

US agency report documents failure to act on Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 25 October 2016

The Office of Inspector General found that the Environmental Protection Agency had both the evidence and legal authority to act in June 2015, much sooner than it did.

One year since the exposure of the Flint water crisis

By Carlos Delgado and James Brewer, 6 October 2016

October 1 marked the anniversary of the first acknowledgement by the governor of Michigan of the Flint water crisis, which poisoned an entire city.

The development of public water systems and the crisis in Flint

By Shannon Jones, 5 October 2016

The events in Flint are a sharp expression of a historical retrogression in the United States, where gains made by the working class in an earlier period are being stripped away.

One year since the official acknowledgment of the Flint water crisis

Billions for infrastructure and health care not war!

By Jerry White—Socialist Equality Party candidate for US president, 5 October 2016

The Socialist Equality Party fights for the only viable program to address the disaster inflicted on the residents of Flint, Michigan.

Research team hikes estimate: At least half of Flint, Michigan homes have lead pipes

By James Brewer, 1 October 2016

The unserious efforts being made in replacing lead service lines in Flint are further discredited by the revelation that even more homes have them.

Pittsburgh residents demand their water be tested for lead

By Samuel Davidson and James Brewer, 29 September 2016

Belated lead-in-water testing by Pittsburgh authorities showed dangerously high levels of lead in 43 percent of homes.

Michigan governor secretly abolished Flint’s right to sue

By James Brewer, 22 September 2016

Six months ago, unbeknown to the public, a resolution from the governor’s office was passed, effectively preventing the city from suing the state over the water crisis.

SEP presidential candidate Jerry White denounces war, advances socialist program at third party forum

By our reporter, 17 September 2016

White participated in a radio forum of third-party and independent presidential candidates held at Flint’s Mott Community College.

State of Michigan reduces revenue sharing payments to city of Flint

By Carlos Delgado, 3 September 2016

The reduced revenue sharing comes as the city continues to suffer the effects of its widespread lead-in-water crisis, which has wreaked havoc on the lives of city residents.

Detroit professor advances “structural racism” theory of Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 1 September 2016

A report submitted as evidence that the Flint water crisis was the result of racism is aimed at concealing the class issues and diverting popular outrage into establishment channels.

New Zealand: Thousands infected by contaminated water in Havelock North

By Tom Peters, 27 August 2016

The precise source of the contamination is not yet known, but waterways have become highly polluted due to intensive and unregulated farming.

As federal emergency funding ends:

Flint residents describe conditions of ongoing water crisis

By Carlos Delgado, 25 August 2016

Two residents recount their personal experiences in Flint and express their outrage at the system.

Unsafe levels of carcinogenic chemicals found in drinking water of 6 million Americans

By James Brewer, 10 August 2016

A report from a Harvard University research team warns of the widespread impact in the US of particular unregulated industrial chemicals.

Michigan attorney general charges six more state officials in Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 30 July 2016

These six indictments bring the number of criminal indictments to nine.

Water officials envision doubling of city of Flint water rates

By James Brewer, 29 July 2016

Michigan’s state treasurer warned that Flint’s already exorbitant water rates may double over the next five years.

State officials work to obscure water crisis in Flint

By Carlos Delgado, 23 July 2016

The appointment of BP’s former spokesperson as Michigan’s new environmental director highlights the official cover-up in the Flint water crisis.

Wider questions arise from Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 1 July 2016

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that some 5,300 water systems, serving 18 million people, are in violation of US lead and copper rules.

Flint mayor announces city will continue pipeline deal at center of lead water crisis

By James Brewer, 23 June 2016

Democratic Mayor Karen Weaver announced Tuesday that Flint will not attempt to break the contract with the Karegnondi Water Authority.

New data exposes widespread lead poisoning of Michigan children

By James Brewer, 10 June 2016

Figures released Monday by state health authorities show that the lead poisoning in Flint is just the tip of the iceberg.

Investigation reveals signs of nationwide US water crisis

By Genevieve Leigh, 6 June 2016

As many as 33 major US cities were found to have engaged in deceptive water testing procedures to hide high lead levels in drinking water, according to a Guardian investigation.

Outrage erupts at Flint meeting of pipeline board

By James Brewer, 20 May 2016

Residents of Flint spoke out in anger during a board meeting of the KWA pipeline authority.

New evidence reveals state of Michigan helped to push Flint into pipeline deal

By James Brookfield, 19 May 2016

A “sweetheart” state environmental order was issued to ensure that bond attorneys for the new pipeline would face no financial obstacles to Flint’s signing on to the project.

Who’s who in the Flint water crisis: Part three

By Carlos Delgado, 18 May 2016

The final part in our series profiling the major figures in the crisis focuses on those who conspired to cover up the devastating effects of the lead exposure.

Video: Flint, Michigan resident speaks on lack of services for poisoned residents

By Tim Rivers, 17 May 2016

Keri Webber, whose family still suffers serious health issues as a result of the lead contamination of Flint’s water, says those affected by the disaster have been left to fend for themselves.

Corporate-backed charities come up with teaspoon of help for Flint

By Sheila Brehm, 13 May 2016

A spokesman for the foundations claim the money—to be distributed over five years—is intended to provide “a sense of hope” for the residents of Flint.

Who’s who in the Flint water crisis: Part two

By Carlos Delgado, 11 May 2016

The second part in our series profiling the major figures in the crisis focuses on those who oversaw the switch to the Flint River.

Who’s who in the Flint water crisis: Part one

By Carlos Delgado, 7 May 2016

The first part of our series profiling the major figures behind the crisis focuses on those who laid the groundwork for the switch from the treated Lake Huron water supplied by Detroit.

Obama in Flint: Let them drink lead

By Andre Damon, 6 May 2016

President Obama’s callous declaration that poisoned children in Flint, Michigan “will be fine” expresses the contempt felt by America’s financial oligarchy for the great mass of society.

Michigan state House passes draconian attack on public education

By Shannon Jones and Nancy Hanover, 6 May 2016

In the wake of their return to work following a two-day sickout, Detroit teachers are facing attacks from emergency manager Steven Rhodes and the state legislature.

Angry reaction to Obama’s speech in Flint

An interview with LeeAnne Walters

By our reporters, 6 May 2016

Walters, her husband, and another Flint resident, Keri Webber, angrily walked out of Obama's event Wednesday after he arrogantly declared, “The kids will be just fine.”

Obama to Flint: Shut up and drink the water

By Shannon Jones, 5 May 2016

Obama perpetuated the cover-up of the criminal responsibility of government officials at all levels for the disaster, while downplaying the health consequences of lead poisoning.

“He wants to sweep this under the rug”

Flint residents respond to Obama’s speech on water crisis

By our reporters, 5 May 2016

The WSWS spoke to Flint residents who expressed anger that they were being urged to use the water despite recent test results showing dangerously high levels of lead.

In midst of water shutoffs, Flint water crisis

Detroit teachers shut schools for second day to protest non-payment of wages

By Thomas Gaist, 4 May 2016

The new attack on Detroit teachers is part of a wider assault on the working class being carried out by both big business parties and the Obama administration.

Support the struggle of Detroit teachers! Unite the working class in a fight back!

By Niles Niemuth, 4 May 2016

The attack on Detroit teachers is just one part of an assault on every section of the working class throughout the region and beyond.
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Michigan officials “game” sampling of lead in water

By James Brewer, 28 April 2016

A British newspaper report uncovered a 2008 email from a state Department of Environmental Quality official asking a technician to conceal lead levels in water.

”I’m tired of being peaceful. I’m tired of being nice”

Flint residents protest two years of ongoing water crisis

By Sheila Brehm and Lawrence Porter, 27 April 2016

Flint residents are increasingly frustrated and angry over the indifference, disdain and absence of assistance from all levels of government, even as the lead crisis in Flint continues.

Michigan residents protest contaminated water at community meeting

By Carlos Delgado, 26 April 2016

Residents from the Arbor Village Mobile Home Community described deplorable conditions and expressed frustration at officials’ lack of concern.

Two years of the Flint water crisis

A crime of capitalism

By Shannon Jones, 25 April 2016

April 25 marks the second anniversary of the criminal decision to shift the city of Flint’s water supply to the polluted Flint River, setting in motion a social catastrophe.

Low-level officials face indictment in Flint lead poisoning crisis

By Shannon Jones, 21 April 2016

Two low-level state officials and a city of Flint employee face multiple felony and misdemeanor charges in relation to the lead poisoning of city residents.

Video: Flint residents speak out on ongoing water crisis

By Buster Haycook, 20 April 2016

Tens of thousands of people in Flint, Michigan have been exposed to lead as a result of the city’s 2014 decision to switch its water source to the contaminated Flint River.