2 y ago
Flint was one of the the first cities to be assigned an emergency manager, in 2011; it would have four EMs in as many years. In 2013, its city council voted to build a pipeline to Lake Huron that would free the city of its dependence on Detroit's water system by 2017. Ed Kurtz, the then-emergency manager, signed off on the plan, and the question became where Flint would source its water in the intervening years. According to a recent Daily Beast investigation, Kurtz rejected the idea of using Flint River water based on conversations with Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality. Longtime Flint residents were also skeptical of the idea: General Motors, which calls Flint home, had used the river as a dumping ground for years.
Yet in 2014, under emergency manager Darnell Earley, the city switched water sources to the Flint River. It remains unclear what led authorities to believe that Flint River water was safe to drink; Earley maintains the decision was supported in a vote by the city council, though there is no record of such a vote. Howard Croft, the former director of public works for Flint, told the ACLU that the decision was financial, had been reviewed by state authorities, and went "all the way to the governor's office."
In March of 2015, after months of residents reporting unusual health symptoms and foul-smelling, tainted water coming from their taps, the Flint City Council voted to "do all things necessary" to switch back to Detroit's water system. Then-acting emergency manager Jerry Ambrose nixed the vote, calling it "incomprehensible."