(Believing it would save money, in April 2014 the City of Flint, Michigan canceled its water supply contract with Detroit and began drawing its drinking water from the nearby Flint River. For the next 18 months the city struggled with the disastrous consequences of that decision. Tests showed high concentrations of poisonous lead were leaching into the drinking water from as many as 8,000 lead service lines. Far too late, the city reconnected with Detroit in October 2015. The consequences of the lead contamination to Flint’s already stressed residents won’t be known for years.
In the following special report, Frank Mangravite, a PhD chemist with a lifetime of experience in utility operations, addresses the question of how a distressed American city’s water system could be allowed to collapse so completely while the responsible state and federal officials all looked the other way.)