What is happening in Flint? The timeline of events and the actors involved.





The Water Treatment Plant (“WTP”) for the City of Flint (“Flint”) is built and becomes Flint’s primary supply of drinking water.


Holloway Reservoir is constructed in order to meet the growing demand for drinking water from Flint’s growing population.


Flint signs a thirty-five-year-plus contract with the City of Detroit for water supply. The Department of Water Supply—which in 1975 becomes the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (“DWSD”)—sends treated water from Lake Huron directly to Flint.

September 2009

A government-commissioned report discusses alternatives for long-term water supply to Flint and surrounding counties. Continued service from the DWSD or the development of a new water supply from Lake Huron are presented as the best options.

July 2011

A new report commissioned by Flint evaluates the cost of long-term water supply for Flint from three different sources - continued service from the DWDS, the Flint River treated via the Flint Water Treatment Plant ("WTP") and Lake Huron via the Karegnondi Water Authority ("KWA"). The report concludes that continuing service from the DWDS is the most expensive option, and that sourcing water from the Flint River would be a cheaper, short-term option for Flint while a planned water supply system from Lake Huron to the Flint WTP is being built.[1]

November 8, 2011

Michigan declares financial state of emergency in Flint.[2]

November 29, 2011

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder approves state takeover of Flint.[3] Michael Brown appointed as Emergency Financial Manager.

August 8, 2012

Ed Kurtz appointed as Emergency Financial Manager after Michael Brown declared ineligible to continue as EFM because of legal technicality.

February 2013

A Report evaluating Flint’s long-term water supply was published.[4]

March 25, 2013

Flint City Council votes to stop buying water from Detroit and to join the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), relying on a new pipeline that will bring raw, untreated water from Lake Huron to the Flint WTP for treatment and distribution.[5]  Kurtz previously had stated that the Council had to take the decision to shift from DWSD to KWA.[6]  Kurtz endorses the plan three days later in a meeting with the State treasurer;[7] the treasurer’s approval was required for the large expenditure—Flint’s share of the construction costs is approximately 30% or $81 million.[8]

April 1, 2013

DWSD requests that the State government block Flint’s participation in the KWA, stating in a press release that Flint’s actions “effectively launched the greatest water war in Michigan’s history.”[9]  At least one other community in the DWSD network calls for Flint and Genesee County to remain with DWSD to prevent cost increases for other DWSD customers.[10]

April 11, 2013

State Treasurer Andy Dillon approves Flint joining the KWA, but requires that Flint entertain, in good faith, the “final best offer” from DWSD due on April 15, 2013.[11] 

April 16, 2013

Kurtz signs agreement to join KWA under prior approval from the Michigan Treasurer,[12] rejecting last-minute bid[13] by DWSD to continue supplying Flint’s water.[14]  DWSD’s final offer included significant saving, but the savings were only guaranteed for the first year.[15]  DWSD spokesman says that DWSD will seek to recoup investments made to Flint’s water system.[16]

April 17, 2013

Sue McCormick, Director of the DWSD, sends Flint a letter informing the City that the existing drinking water supply contract with the DWSD would be terminated in one year, on April 17, 2014.[17]

June 2013

Ground is broken on the KWA pipeline.  Flint signs contract for a feasibility study on using the Flint River as the primary source of water.[18]

July 2013

Michael Brown re-appointed as Emergency Financial Manager after Ed Kurtz resigns.

August 2013

Engineering proposal issued for improvements to the Flint system.[19]

October 2013

Saginaw city manger Darnell Earley appointed Emergency Financial Manager after Michael Brown resigns for personal reasons.[20]

February 12, 2014

DWSD submits a Proposed Modified Water Rate for Flint for the period April 17, 2014 through June 30, 2014.  The modified rate is 10.3% higher than the rate under the contract.[21]  Genesee County also seeks a non-contract arrangement with DWSD, and is offered a rate by DWSD for July 2014 to June 2015 that is 20% higher than Flint’s original rate with probable 6% rate increases yearly thereafter.[22]

March 7, 2014

Earley sends a letter to DWSD’s McCormick stating that Flint expects to be able to meet its drinking water needs from the Flint River.[23] However, he states that in the event they cannot meet their needs via the Flint River, they would like the option to continue purchasing water from Detroit.

April 9, 2014

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approves Flint’s use of the Flint River for the city’s drinking water.[24]

April 25, 2014

Flint switches from the City of Detroit to the Flint River as its source of drinking water. The water bought from the City of Detroit contains orthophosphate, a treatment chemical used to control lead and copper levels in the drinking water.


Following the switch, Flint no longer provides corrosion control treatment for lead and copper. Additionally, they add ferric chloride – a coagulant that removes organic matter – in order to reduce the amount of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM). An increase in the chloride to sulfate ratio has been shown to increase the likelihood of corrosion and therefore the level of lead in the drinking water.[25]


In contrast, Genesee County continues to use DWSD water without a contract starting in May 2014.[26]

August 2014

Flint exceeds the Maximum Contaminant Level (“MCL”) for E. coli bacteria and the MCL for Coliform bacteria.[27] The boil water advisory stays in effect.


10 cases of Legionnaire’s disease report.[28]

September 2014

Flint exceeds the MCL for Coliform bacteria.[29]

October 14, 2014

GM states publically that it will no longer use the water from the Flint WTP in its car manufacturing process because the water is causing corrosion in its car parts, indicating high levels of chloride in the water.[30]

December 2014

Flint exceeds the MCL for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM).

January 2015

Jerry Ambrose named new Emergency Financial Manager for Flint.

February 4, 2015

The Walters family reports that their child developed skin rashes after bathing.[31]

February 11, 2015

The City of Flint measured the level of lead in the Walters’ home. The levels exceeds 3.3mg/L.

March 3, 2015

Ambrose provides a memorandum to State Treasurer stating that reconnection to DWSD would cost $10.1 million/year with water purchases as high as $1 million/month.

April 2015

Governor Snyder lifted the financial emergency designation in Flint.[32]

June 24, 2015

Miguel A. Del Toral wrote an internal interim report on the levels of lead in Flint drinking water to Thomas Poy. The Report states that the drinking water in Flint, since the switch to the Flint River as a supply, has exceeded several different Minimum Contaminant Levels (“MCL”) that are required to be met under the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”). Further, the Report acknowledged that the water quality for drinking water data had been collected to demonstrate that at least one home in Flint was being serviced with lead pipes and that the lead levels in samples taken at that home exceeded the allowed amounts.

September 15, 2015

Marc Edwards and researchers at Virginia Tech University tested for lead in the drinking water from taps at 252 homes.[33] 101 of the 252 homes tested for lead in amounts exceeding 5 parts per billion (“ppb”).

September 24, 2015

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center, reported that the percentage of children in Flint with elevated blood-lead levels grew from 2.1% to 4% between the time prior to September 15, 2013 and after January 2015, which correlates with Flint’s switch to drinking water sources.[34]

October 1, 2015

The Genesee County Board of Commissioners issues an Emergency Advisory recommending that people not drink water coming from the City of Flint.[35]

October 8, 2015

The Mayor of Flint announced that Flint would be reconnected to the Detroit water supply.[36]

November 4, 2015

The EPA published a final report

December 14, 2015

The Mayor of Flint declared a state of emergency in Flint.[37]

January 16, 2016

President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.[38]

February 1, 2016

Susan Hedman, the Administrator for EPA Region 5, resigned.

February 2, 2016

The FBI announces that it is joining an investigation into whether laws have broken in responding to the contaminated water in Flint.[39]

February 10, 2016

An investigator announces that officials who acted grossly negligent may face manslaughter charges.[40]



[1] “Analysis of the Flint River as a Permanent Water Supply for the City of Flint,” July 2011. Prepared for Dayne Walling, Mayor for the City of Flint.

[2] “Michigan Sizes Up Taking Over Flint,” Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2011.

[3] “Michigan governor approves state takeover of Flint,” Reuters, November, 30, 2011, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-flint-michigan-emergency-idUSTRE7AS2YN20111130.

[4] “City of Flint Water Supply Assessment,” February 2013. Submitted to the State of Michigan, Department of Treasury from Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull Inc.

[5] “Flint water mystery: How was decision made?,” November 22, 2015, available at http://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2015/11/21/snyders-top-aide-talked-flint-water-supply-alternatives/76037130/.

[6] “Flint council video shows path away from Detroit water,” February 4, 2016, available at http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/02/03/video-flint-council-voted-kwa-but-not-flint-river/79759726/.

[7] “Flint emergency manager endorses water pipeline, final decision rests with state of Michigan,” March 29, 2013, available at http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/03/flint_emergency_manager_endors.html.

[8] “Flint council video shows path away from Detroit water,” February 4, 2016.

[9] “Detroit 'water war' claims 'wholly without merit,' Genesee County drain commissioner says,” April 2, 2013, available at http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/04/genesee_county_drain_commissio_28.html.

[10] “Ex-Detroit official reignites Flint water switch tiff,” January 26, 2016, available at http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/01/26/ex-detroit-official-reignites-flint-water-switch-tiff/79379770/.

[11] “State gives Flint OK to join Karegnondi Water Authority project, but Detroit gets to make final offer,” April 12, 2013, available at http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/04/state_gives_flint_ok_t.html.

[12] “State gives Flint OK to join Karegnondi Water Authority project, but Detroit gets to make final offer,” April 12, 2013.

[13] “Late bid failed to avert Flint-Detroit water deal,” February 2, 2016, available at http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/02/02/late-bid-failed-avert-flint-detroit-water-deal/79735848/.

[14] “Flint ending Detroit water contract, DWSD looking at its options,” April 16, 2013, available at http://michiganradio.org/post/flint-ending-detroit-water-contract-dwsd-looking-its-options#stream/0.

[15] “Flint ending Detroit water contract, DWSD looking at its options,” April 16, 2013. “New emails reveal the switch to the Flint River was not about saving money,” January 25, 2016, available at http://www.metrotimes.com/Blogs/archives/2016/01/25/new-emails-reveal-the-switch-to-the-flint-river-was-not-about-saving-money. Letter to Ed Kurtz from Sue McCormick offering a Public/Private Partnership, April 15, 2013, available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/298602330/DWSD-offer-to-Flint.

[16] “Flint ending Detroit water contract, DWSD looking at its options,” April 16, 2013.

[17]“Termination of Contract for the Provision of Water Services by the City of Detroit, Water and Sewerage Department,” April 17, 2013, available at http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/201512/dwsd_termination_ltr.pdf?_ga=1.66617326.1973691929.1443711833.

[18] “Disaster Day by Day: A detailed Flint crisis timeline,” February 4, 2016, available at http://bridgemi.com/2016/02/flint-water-disaster-timeline/.

[19] “Disaster Day by Day: A detailed Flint crisis timeline,” February 4, 2016.

[20] “Former Flint mayor on water crisis: "It's frustrating to me that more has not been done,” January 29, 2016, available at http://michiganradio.org/term/flint-emergency-manager#stream/0.

[21] “Proposed Modified Water Rate for Flint for April 17, 2014 thru June 30, 2014 by the DWDS Board of Water Commissioners,” February 12, 2014, available at http://www.dwsd.org/downloads_n/about_dwsd/bowc/presentations/2014-02-12/dwsd_flint_rates_presentation_2014-02-12.pdf.

[22] “20 percent increase: Detroit hikes price of water for Genesee County suburbs,” July 7, 2014, available at http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/07/20_percent_price_hike_detroit.html.

[23] “Late bid failed to avert Flint-Detroit water deal,” February 2, 2016, available at http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/02/02/late-bid-failed-avert-flint-detroit-water-deal/79735848/.

[24] “TIMELINE: Here's how the Flint water crisis unfolded,” December 21, 2015, available at http://michiganradio.org/post/timeline-heres-how-flint-water-crisis-unfolded#stream/0.

[25] “High Lead Levels in Flint, Michigan - Interim Report (EPA),” June 24, 2015, available at http://flintwaterstudy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Miguels-Memo.pdf.

[26] “Exclusive: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Men Originally Rejected Using Flint’s Toxic River,” January 24, 2016, available at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/24/exclusive-gov-rick-snyder-s-men-originally-rejected-using-flint-s-toxic-river.html. The article includes a link to Governor Snyder’s released emails. These emails can also be found at http://www.scribd.com/doc/296163856/Snyder-Emails-Regarding-Flint-Water-Crisis (page 58).

[27] “Tests positive for total coliform again in water-boil area on Flint's west side,” August 19, 2014, available at http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/08/water_boil_area_in_flint_gets.html.

[28] “Snyder: Legionnaires' cases spike in Flint area,” January 13, 2016, available at http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/01/13/flint-snyder/78748494/.

[29] “Flint issues boil water advisory for section of the city after positive test for total coliform bacteria,” September 5, 2014, available at http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/09/flint_issues_boil_water_adviso.html.

[30] “GM says no to Flint water,” November 11, 2014, available at http://www.wnem.com/story/26785625/gm-says-no-to-flint-water.

[31] “High Lead Levels in Flint, Michigan - Interim Report (EPA),” June 24, 2015. Toral is the Regulations Manager, Ground Water and Drinking Water Branch and Poy is the Chief Ground Water and Drinking Water Branch.

[32] “Flint Emergency Financial Manager Removed Today,” April 29, 2015, available at http://housedems.com/article/flint-emergency-financial-manager-removed-today-0.

[33]“Our sampling of 252 homes demonstrates a high lead in water risk: Flint should be failing to meet the EPA Lead and Copper Rule,” September 8, 2015, available at http://flintwaterstudy.org/2015/09/our-sampling-of-252-homes-demonstrates-a-high-lead-in-water-risk-flint-should-be-failing-to-meet-the-epa-lead-and-copper-rule/.

[34] “Flint doctor makes state see light about lead in water,” October 12, 2015, available at http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/10/10/hanna-attisha-profile/73600120/.

[35] “Flint Officials Are No Longer Saying the Water Is Fine,” October 7, 2015, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/us/reassurances-end-in-flint-after-months-of-concern.html.

[36] “Flint returning to Detroit water amid lead concerns,” October 8, 2015, available at http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/us/michigan-flint-water/.

[37] Associated Press, “Flint Mayor Declares State of Emergency Over Water Problems,” December 15, 2015, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/flint-state-of-emergency_us_56702d62e4b0e292150f32c7.

[38] “State of Emergency Declared Over Man-Made Water Disaster in Michigan City,” January 17, 2016, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/us/obama-flint-michigan-water-fema-emergency-disaster.html.

[39] “FBI joins probe of Flint, Michigan's lead contaminated water,” February 2, 2016, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-michigan-flint-fbi-idUSKCN0VB1DB.

[40] “Manslaughter charges possible in Flint water crisis, says top investigator,” February 10, 2016, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/10/manslaughter-charges-possible-in-flint-water-crisis-says-top-investigator/.