A timeline of all events pertaining to the Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis resulted from decisions that began 11 years ago - in 2011 - when the City of Flint began considering a change to its water source to save money. A lot has happened since then.

Explore it all in our interactive timeline.

A timeline of all events pertaining to the Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis resulted from decisions that began 11 years ago - in 2011 - when the City of Flint began considering a change to its water source to save money. A lot has happened since then.

Explore it all in our interactive timeline.

We invite you to discover them below.

A timeline of all events pertaining to the Flint Water Crisis

20

2011 2018

2011

March

Governor Snyder signs Public Act No. 4, empowering the Governor “to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.” [source]

July

City of Flint receives analysis of feasibility of using Flint River as the City’s water source. [source]

November

November 8: Governor Rick Snyder declares the City of Flint to be a “local government financial emergency.” [source]

December

December 1: Governor Snyder appoints Michael Brown as Emergency Manager for Flint. [source]

2012

February

February 13: Emergency Manager Brown writes that the City of Flint has committed to join the KWA. [source]

August

August 8: Governor Snyder appoints Ed Kurtz as Emergency Manager for Flint. [source]

November

November 6: In a referendum, Michigan voters repeal Public Act No. 4. [source]

December

December 31: Governor Snyder signs Public Act No. 436, replacing the repealed Public Act No. 4 with largely the same powers to appoint Emergency Managers to run Michigan cities. This time, the law was made not subject to appeal by referendum. [source]

2013

Sanitary Surveys of the Flint Water Treatment Plant conducted by the MDEQ express concern over the “condition of the piping” and that “much of the piping is over 60 years old and in need of replacement.” The MDEQ also estimated that approximately 80% of the service lines in the City of Flint were lead.

Contrary to advice from LAN Engineers, MDEQ officials instruct the City of Flint not to use or test for corrosion control.

March

March 25: Flint City Council votes to join Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). [source

March 28: Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz approves decision for Flint to join the KWA. [source

Lockwood, Andrews & Newman (LAN) begins working with the City of Flint to prepare the City’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP) to switch water sources. [source]

June

MDEQ officials notify Flint WTP/Genesee County that no corrosion control would be required.

2014

April

April 9: Despite firsthand knowledge of the concerns expressed by Flint Water Treatment Plant staff, the City of Flint and MDEQ approve the switch to change water source to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure.

April 17: Michael Glasgow, water treatment operator of the Flint Water Treatment Plant, writes to MDEQ officials Michael Prysby, Stephen Busch, and Adam Rosenthal the plant is not ready to treat water from the Flint River: “I do not anticipate giving the OK to begin sending water out anytime soon. If water is distributed from this plant in the next couple of weeks, it will be against my direction. I need time to adequately train additional staff and to update our monitoring plans before I will feel we are ready. I will reiterate this to management above me, but they seem to have their own agenda.” [source]  

April 25: Despite warnings that the water treatment plant was not ready, Emergency Manager Darnell Earley orders the switch of Flint’s water source from the DWSD to the Flint River. [source]

  • At the time of the switch, neither the City nor the MDEQ had knowledge or updated records of where lead service lines were located in Flint. Knowledge of the locations of these service lines is necessary to conduct properly lead test samples under federal law.
  • Prior to the switch and thereafter, City officials fail to use measures that would reduce the corrosivity of the water and prevent lead from entering the water supply.
  • Shortly after the switch, Flint residents notice changes to the quality of the water and complain about its color, odor, and taste. Eventually, these complaints would become so numerous that the EPA stopped keeping track.  [source

City of Flint water distribution staff discover completely stripped pipes in the Flint distribution system and immediately bring their concern to the attention of Public Works Director Howard Croft.

August

August 14: Flint’s water tests above the legal limits for total coliform and E. coli bacteria.

August 15: The City of Flint issues its first boil water advisory to residents. [source]

September

September 6: The City of Flint issues its second boil water advisory to residents. [source]

October

October 14: Members of Governor Sndyer’s top staff express their concerns about the quality of Flint’s water in private email exchanges:

  • Valerie Brader, Governor Snyder’s Senior Advisor: “I think we should ask the (emergency manager) to consider coming back to the Detroit system in full or in part as an interim solution to both the quality, and now the financial, problems that the current solution is causing [source]. I am not sure who is the best person to initiate that conversation with the EM, but I see this as an urgent matter to fix.” [source
  • Michael Gadola, Governor Snyder’s Director Legal Affairs: “ (T)o anyone who grew up in Flint as I did, the notion that I would be getting my drinking water from the Flint River is downright scary. Too bad the (emergency manager) didn’t ask me what I thought, though I’m sure he heard it from plenty of others. My Mom is a City resident. Nice to know she’s drinking water with elevated chlorine levels and fecal coliform. I agree with Valerie. They should try to get back on the Detroit system as a stopgap ASAP before this thing gets too far out of control.” [source

Despite boil water advisories and TTHM exceedances, state and local officials chose to “live with it” because it was a “huge cost savings” and the “high cost of switching” back to DWSD.

December

December 16: MDEQ notifies Flint of initial quarterly violation of a federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) violation in relation to disinfection byproducts known as total trihalomethanes (TTHM). [source

December 31: City of Flint’s first 6-month round of LCR monitoring ends. Using 100 samples not necessarily drawn from highest risk homes (as required by the LCR), the 90th percentile lead level result is 6 parts per billion (ppb). [source]  

As would be discovered later, City of Flint officials failed to properly collect water samples, leading to inaccurate test results. These results would be passed on to VNA engineers as accurate reflections of Flint’s compliance with federal lead standards in February 2015.

2015

January

VNA is involved in a short-term, limited engagement in the City of Flint.

January 2: City of Flint notifies residents of safety violations related to TTHMs, stemming from adding more chlorine without addressing other underlying issues. [source

January 12: DWSD states that it is “ready, willing, and able” to resume selling DWSD water to the City of Flint. [source

January 13: Darnell Earley resigns as Emergency Manager. Gerald Ambrose takes over shortly thereafter. [source

January 28: MDHHS epidemiologist Corinne Miller meets with MDHHS Director Nick Lyon and gives him materials that outline an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County in 2014. [source

January 21: State officials install water coolers in the state office building in Flint. [source]

January 26: The Director of DWSD announces publicly that the DWSD is willing to reopen the pipeline for emergency services and not contingent on a long-term contract. [source

January 27: The Genesee County Health Department finds identifies an association between the Legionnaires ’ disease outbreak and the switch to the Flint River as the Flint’s drinking water source. [source

January 29: Top MDEQ drinking water officials discuss Flint water discoloration and changes to the water chemistry that may cause “corrosive water to slough material off of pipes” while acknowledging that it appeared “wide-spread” and was “likely a distribution system problem.” [source

City of Flint declines offer from Detroit water system to return to using their water supply. [source

January 29: VNA submits a $40,000 bid for short-term assignment focused primarily on diagnosing and helping solve the significant problems created by TTHMs. [source]

February

In discussing Flint water issues, Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose admits “[w]e made a mistake (as well as the Governor) and somebody has to fix it and not burden the taxpayers . . . .”

February 6: A water fountain on the University of Michigan at Flint campus tests for an elevated lead level. [source]  Robert Nicholas, one of the development employees of VNA, is emailed the press article about the test and states that VNA will look into lead as part of its upcoming short-term consulting project for the City of Flint.

February 10: VNA signs its contract with the City of Flint. [source] The $40,000 contract provides that two VNA engineers will work for approximately one week in the City and consult with Flint Water Treatment Plant operators. VNA will provide a report with recommendations to the City.

February 11: At the kick-off telephone meeting for VNA’s assignment, City officials make clear that they do not want to hear advice on something they have already decided against: returning to DWSD water, which is “not an option.”

February 16: VNA engineers Marvin Gnagy and Theping Chen arrive in Flint and meet with Flint Water Plant staff.

February 17: Marvin Gnagy asks for and receives from Flint Water Plant operator Michael Glasgow the City’s lead test results from the latest testing cycle completed at the end of 2014.

  • Despite the mandate for VNA to focus on TTHMs, when VNA detected corrosive water that could result in lead issues in the future, VNA brought the issue to the attention of City officials, investigated the lead testing data provided by city officials, and made recommendations to address the potential future issue.

On February 18: the water in the home of a Flint resident is tested for lead by plant operator Michael Glasgow. [source

  • February 24: These results were first revealed in a letter from the MDEQ’s laboratory to plant operator and City of Flint employee Michael Glasgow.
  • The results were then shared with other City, MDEQ, MDHHS, and EPA employees, along with Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose.
  • One City of Flint official wrote in response to the test results that “Marvin [Gnagy] from Veolia mentioned to me he thought we needed to add phosphate to our water to help prevent this.” However, no one alerted VNA employees, who, at the time the results were received, were working on their final report to the City.
  • By February 2, EPA officials discuss with MDEQ staff the high lead test results discovered at a house in Flint and that was now “actual evidence that the water is leaching contaminants from the biofilms” in the Flint distribution system. EPA officials recommend that MDEQ contact the EPA’s “resident expert” on simultaneous compliance with lead and disinfection byproduct issues. MDEQ officials falsely assure the EPA that Flint “[h]as an Optimized Corrosion Control Program.” [source]  

February 18: VNA provides its interim report to the City of Flint, noting that “studying why the change from DWSD or the history of the utility” was not in VNA’s scope. [source

  • VNA employees Robert Nicholas and David Gadis discuss their interim report, at a meeting of the Flint City Council. Based on the lead test results they had seen at the time, whose inaccuracy was not known at the time, they indicate that the City’s water was in compliance based on all of the test results they had been given at the time. [source]

February 28, 2015: EM Gerald Ambrose made clear that he was rejecting DWSD’s offer to reconnect because DWSD’s offer “doesn’t change the cost (or my mind).”

March

March 2: At a City of Flint executive meeting, “lead tests” are discussed among City officials but again not shared with VNA.

March 4: VNA delivers a report to the City of Flint Technical Advisory Committee. The report recommends the addition of corrosion control to the water treatment process. [source

March 10: The EPA notifies MDEQ that it has been “inundated” with citizen emails referred from the White House about Flint water quality problems. [source] The EPA had received so many complaints that it simply stopped keeping track of them.

March 12: VNA delivers its final Water Quality Report to the City of Flint. The report contains ten recommendations, ranked in order of priority. The first recommendation addresses the need for better processes and quality control to address the issue of TTHMs. One of the second priority recommendations advises the City of Flint to contract with its engineer and the State to implement corrosion control: [source

  • “Contract with your engineer and initiate discussions with the State on the addition of a corrosion control chemical. This action can be submitted and discussed with the state at the same time as the other chemical and filter changes saving time and effort. A target dosage of 0.5 mg/L phosphate is suggested for improved corrosion control.” [source
  • All but one of VNA’s ten recommendations are accepted and implemented by the City. The corrosion control recommendation is not implemented.
  • This report ends VNA’s engagement with the City of Flint.

March 23: The Flint City Council votes to “do all things necessary” to return to DWSD. Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose overrides the vote and refuses to switch the back to DWSD for the City’s drinking water, calling it “incomprehensible.”  [source

March 31: The MDEQ notifies City of Flint of results of first 6-month lead and copper monitoring period (July-December 2014) showing 6 ppb result, indicating compliance with federal rules. These results are based on the same erroneously collected samples that were given by Michael Glasgow of the City of Flint to Marvin Gnagy and Theping Chen of VNA.

April

April 24: MDEQ officials admit to EPA that the City of Flint has no corrosion control treatment; while at the same time erroneously informing the MDEQ that the City of Flint’s sampling protocols for lead and copper monitoring complied with all state and federal requirements. [source] ; 

April 27: EPA Regulations Manager Miguel Del Toral emails other EPA staff expressing concern regarding Flint’s lack of corrosion control treatment, pre-flushing, and high lead levels. He states Flint does not meet requirements for optimized corrosion control treatment which is “very concerning given the likelihood of lead service lines in the city”. [source]

May

May 1: MDEQ staff indicates to EPA that MDEQ is delaying the decision on corrosion control treatment pending completion of City of Flint’s second 6-month monitoring period in June 2015. The MDEQ states that, since Flint will be switching water source in another year, “requiring a [corrosion control] study at the current time will be of little to no value”. [source]

June

June 10: An EPA/MDEQ conference call includes discussion of the fact that Flint does not have corrosion control treatment in place. [source

June 24: Miguel Del Toral of the EPA delivers an interim report on Flint, in which he raises concerns about possible widespread leaching of lead in Flint’s water distribution system without appropriate corrosion control treatment. [source

  • The report also acknowledges that VNA was “primarily focused on TTHMs control and other operational issues” and was “written prior to the recent discovery of high lead levels in Flint drinking water.”

June 5: Flint residents file a lawsuit against the City of Flint seeking to return to DWSD and alleging that “there is a continuing problem with turbidity, lead, tin, and odorous water.” [source]  

June 9: MDEQ issues third Disinfection Byproducts quarterly violation notice. [source]

July

July 1: EPA Region 5 Water Division Director Tinka Hyde tells MDEQ that Region 5 is “concerned about the lead situation” in Flint, but states that second round of monitoring is under way. [source

July 2: EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman downplays Mr. Del Toral’s report to City of Flint officials, saying that Del Toral’s report was “a preliminary draft and that it would be premature to draw any conclusions based on that draft” and that the EPA will work with MDEQ on issues related to lead in Flint’s water. [source

July 21: An EPA and MDEQ conference call includes discussion of LCR implementation and Flint. The EPA informs MDEQ of its interpretation of the LCR. The EPA states that it wants corrosion control implemented in Flint, but MDEQ states its belief that it is premature. [source

July 24: Similarly, an MDEQ spokesman informs Governor Snyder’s staff that “[t]he bottom line is that the residents of Flint do not need to worry about lead in the water supply, and MDEQ recent sampling does not indicate eminent [sic] health threat from lead.” [source

July 28: The City of Flint provides the MDEQ with its original LCR report documenting lead levels measured in sampling from January through June 2015.

  • Michael Glasgow, on instruction from his superiors at the City of Flint, would go on to “scrub” the report of two high lead results in order to falsely show compliance with federal lead standards.

July 28: MDHHS epidemiologist Cristin Larder emails other MDHHS staff indicating that children’s blood lead levels were unusually elevated in summer 2014 and that the findings “warranted further investigation.” Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) data manager Robert Scott analyzes the data over a 5-year period and concludes that “water was not a major factor.” CLPPP manager Nancy Peeler confirms analysis shows lead levels spiked in July-September 2014, but “that pattern was not terribly different from what we saw in the previous three years”. Despite Larder’s findings, Peeler communicates with MDHHS and states her belief that there is no problem with children’s lead levels in Flint. [source]

August

August 27: Virginia Tech professor Dr. Marc Edwards releases his first set of findings regarding tests of water in Flint, showing that over half of the 48 samples have lead levels of more than 5 ppb and 30 percent of samples have lead levels greater than 15 ppb, i.e., above federal lead limits. [source

August 31: An EPA and MDEQ conference call includes discussion of second 6-month monitoring test results for January through July 2015, indicating – erroneously, due to the falsified results provided by Michael Glasgow – a 90th percentile of 11 ppb. The call also addresses the fact that corrosion control treatment is needed and the MDEQ agrees to send a letter to the City of Flint requiring corrosion control treatment for LCR compliance as soon as possible, and in any event no later than January 2016. [source]

September

September 24: In a press conference at Flint’s Hurley Medical Center, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha announces elevated blood levels in Flint children following the switch to the Flint River water. MDHHS issues comments emphasizing differences between Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s analysis and earlier internal analyses conducted by the MDHHS. [source

  • That same day, Robert Scott of MDHHS writes in an internal memo that he sees patterns in blood lead levels similar to what Dr. Hanna-Attisha has reported. [source

September 8: Dr. Marc Edwards posts sample testing results concluding that “Flint has a very serious lead in water problem” and informs EPA officials that Flint’s lead and copper sampling methods are improper. [source

The EPA emails MDEQ with notes from an August 31, 2015 conference call to discuss the lead in water issues in Flint, in which the EPA “acknowledge[s] that to delay installation of corrosion control treatment in Flint would likely cause even higher levels of lead over time as Flint’s many lead service lines are continuously in contact with corrosive water”. [source

September 28: MDHHS Director Nick Lyon calls for analysis of the blood lead levels in order to “make a strong statement with a demonstration of proof that the blood lead levels seen are not out of the ordinary.” No such analysis is ever provided. [source

Public Works Director Howard Croft responds to a series of questions from the Michigan Department of Treasury, confirming that “Veolia’s commissioned scope of work was to focus on the TTHM concerns but they did make corrosion control one of their recommendations and the City along with LAN engineering started the process of developing a plan . . . to work with DEQ to establish the corrosion control following the installation of the new [GAC] filters.”

EPA Region 5 officials exchange emails indicating they are “not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for.” EPA officials circulate a “ten point plan” which included a proposed start date for corrosion control treatment of January 16, 2016.  [source] and [source]

October

October 1: MDHHS issues a statement confirming Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s analysis. [source]

October 15: Ceding to political pressure, Governor Snyder orders the City of Flint to switch back to DWSD as the City’s water source. [source

October 16: One day after Governor Snyder’s order, the switch to DWSD takes place. [source]

October 19: MDEQ Director Dan Wyant issues a statement saying that the MDEQ was mistaken in how it interpreted federal rules governing corrosion control for water systems the size of the City of Flint’s. [source]

November

November 16: Howard Croft resigns as Flint DPW director. [source]

December

December 30: Governor Rick Snyder issues apology for Flint water crisis via press release. [source

December 30: The Governor’s Flint Water Advisory Task Force issues its preliminary conclusions that MDEQ bears primary responsibility for what happened in Flint because MDEQ was responsible for ensuring compliance with the SDWA through its regulatory oversight as the primary agency having enforcement responsibility for the Flint water system, but misinterpreted the LCR and did not require corrosion control treatment when the City switched its water source to the Flint River in April 2014. Instead, prior to the switch, MDEQ staff instructed City of Flint WTP staff that corrosion control treatment was not necessary until two six-month monitoring periods had been conducted. The decision not to require corrosion control treatment, made at the direction of the MDEQ, led directly to the contamination of the Flint water system. [source]

2016

January

January 19: Gov. Snyder again apologizes to Flint residents for the contaminated drinking water in his State of the State address. [source

January 21: EPA Region 5 Director Susan Hedman resigns, effective February 1, 2016. [source

January 21: EPA issues an emergency order saying authorities in Michigan failed to properly respond to Flint water crisis and prescribing various actions for the City and MDEQ. [source]  

January 25: Michigan Attorney General Schuette announces an investigation of the Flint Water crisis and that Todd Flood and Andrew Arena will head the investigation. [source]

March

March 16: Governor Snyder testifies before Congress admitting that the Flint crisis resulted from “a failure of government at all levels . . . [l]ocal, state and federal officials” and from MDEQ’s “systematic failures” that “valued technical competence over common sense.” He also blamed the EPA for allowing the disaster to continue unnecessarily. [source

March 21: The Flint Water Advisory Task Force issues its final report finding that: “The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) failed in its fundamental responsibility to effectively enforce drinking water regulations.” [source]

April

Attorney General Schuette announces criminal charges against FWTP’s Michael Glasgow and the MDEQ’s Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby.  [source]

July

Attorney General Schuette announces criminal charges against the MDHHS’s Robert Scott, Nancy Peeler and Corinne Miller as well as against the MDEQ’s Adam Rosenthal, Liane Shekter-Smith and Patrick Cook [source]. Miller later pleads no contest to a misdemeanor. [source]

December

Attorney General Schuette announces criminal charges against former Emergency Managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose as well as Flint’s Director of the Department of Public Works Howard Croft and Flint Utilities Director for the Department of Public Works Daugherty Johnson. [source]

2017

April

Following suit from Flint residents, Mayor Weaver announces that the city plans to remove lead piping at 6,000 homes by the end of the year. The project is funded by a $100 million grant approved by Congress. [source]

June

Attorney General Bill Schuette announces criminal charges against MDHHS Director Nick Lyon, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells and additional charges against former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, the MDEQ’s Stephen Busch and Liane Shekter-Smith and the City of Flint’s Director of the Department of Public Works Howard Croft. [source]

2018

January

An MDEQ study for the second half of 2017 officially claims that “water quality is restored.” [source] Over 30,000 Flint water samples had been tested during the crisis. [source]

June

Michigan enacts the strictest law in the United States for lead in drinking water to 12 parts per billion. This is projected to be achieved by 2025. [source]

The EPA Office of Inspector General publishes a report that strongly criticizes the local, state and federal government’s delayed response to the water crisis–”“[t]he circumstances and response to Flint’s drinking water contamination involved implementation and oversight lapses at the EPA, the state of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and the city of Flint.” [source]