Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"I'm so scared," one Flint resident said about the water this week. (Photo: Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org)

It's Now Been Three Long Years Since Flint Had Clean Water

Flint, Michigan has not had clean water since the city switched its water source to the Flint River on April 24, 2014

Nika Knight

As of Tuesday, the city of Flint, Michigan has been without clean water for over three long years.

"The people of Flint have been through hell over the last three years and it's absolutely disgusting that there has been little change in their daily lives."
—Lonnie Scott, Progress Michigan

April 24, 2014 was the day that city officials made the disastrous decision to switch the city's water source to the Flint River, whose polluted water corroded aged lead pipes and poisoned residents' water with lead.

The city still does not have clean water. Residents must purchase filters to reduce the lead in their water, and the city says it will be three more years before all of the city's lead pipes are replaced, according to NPR.

Local ten-year-old water activist Amariyanna Copeny, better known as Little Miss Flint, filmed a video for Teen Vogue this week in which she demonstrates how difficult it is to cook dinner with bottled water—a reality for many Flint residents:

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is now recommending that the city switch to Detroit's water supply, which Flint was doing before April 2014.

At the meeting last week where Weaver announced her recommendation, police ended up arresting six people after arguments broke out. "Residents peppered officials with questions about bacteria, the long-term medical impact of the water supply, and medical support for those potentially contaminated with lead, and how they can ever trust the government again," reported MLive.

"I'm so scared," one Flint resident commented to the New York Times about the water. "There's nothing we can do about it. I don't know if I would let [my children] drink the water ever again."

In the three years since the Flint water crisis began, it has resonated nationwide, shedding light on the urgent public health problem of lead in water supplies—a threat in many municipalities with aging infrastructure.

Water expert Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University, who first blew the whistle on the crisis in Flint, commented to Public Radio International that "lead was something that was once ignored, covered up, and now it's taken very seriously and we're even starting to see some improved sampling in schools, which I thought we might never see in my lifetime."

"I think one of the more profound regulatory changes that people don't even talk about is the fact that people have been indicted for what occurred," Edwards told the outlet. "And as I travel the country, I go to state regulatory agencies. Good, honest people at these agencies tell me that this is such an example that when they see something wrong now, they can just say 'well, if we don't do something, we're going to be like MDEQ [Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] in Flint. We want to do our jobs.'"

That awareness and concern has still not helped the people of Flint, however, progressive advocates charge.

"The people of Flint have been through hell over the last three years and it's absolutely disgusting that there has been little change in their daily lives. Many still rely solely on bottled water and over 1,000 days into this crisis still cannot trust the water from their taps," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, in a statement. 

"While the residents of Flint struggle without clean water and are denied their basic rights, no significant legislation has been passed to prevent another crisis like this one and the Republican-led legislature has yet to issue one subpoena to investigate the crisis," Scott added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'We Are Trying to Save It,' Progressives Say as Right-Wing Dems Sabotage Biden's Agenda

"The Biden agenda—our Democratic agenda—is at stake. It's progressives who are fighting to pass it in its entirety."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·


Campaign Slams Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sunrise Movement Targets Kyrsten Sinema for Obstructing Build Back Better Act

"Who do you work for? Do you work for the young, BIPOC, and working people who put their lives on hold to elect you? Or do you work for ExxonMobil and fossil fuel corporations?"

Brett Wilkins ·


UN Chief Tells World Leaders To Their Faces That Vaccine Apartheid Is 'An Obscenity'

Persistent inequality represents "a moral indictment of the state of our world," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo