The Flint water crisis did not begin on April 25th, 2014, when the city switched its water supply from Detroit’s system, tapping Lake Huron to its own on the Flint River. That tragic mistake was the culmination of a much longer ongoing disaster, one caused by greed, politics, incompetence, and selective amnesia. The known consequences include lead poisoning, skin rashes, and carcinogens in the water. The total health consequences may not be known for years. Much has and will be written about that decision and its aftermath. Less has been written about how the Flint River became so polluted in the first place. Flint’s water crisis begins with the pollution of the Flint River, which has been going on for well over a century.
This short history of pollution of the Flint River is gathered from multiple interviews and news sources, including over 400 historical documents from The Flint Journal, the City of Flint, the Flint Public Library, Flint’s Sloan Museum, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of the Interior, and various Michigan state agencies.
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