Skip to main content


Published onMar 27, 2020



1893: First Flint Water Works opens, drawing water from Flint River.

1965: Flint commits to a thirty-five-year contract with the Detroit Department of Water Supply, later renamed the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).

1967: Flint begins receiving water from DWSD, drawn first from the Detroit River and then, after 1974, from Lake Huron. Flint sells water wholesale to the rest of Genesee County—first directly to surrounding townships, then from 1973 onward through the Genesee County Drain Commission.

1988: Public Act (PA) 101 takes effect, allowing the State of Michigan to declare financial emergencies in municipalities and assign control of local finances to emergency financial managers (EFMs). The City of Hamtramck is the first to be assigned an EFM under the new law.

1990: PA 72 takes effect, expanding PA 101’s stipulations to school districts.

2000: Flint’s contract with DWSD expires, first of a series of one-year extensions signed.

2002–2004: Flint under state-appointed EFM Edward Kurtz.

Aug. 2003: Four waterless days during a massive power outage raise questions about the reliability of the Detroit water system.

2009: Detroit Public Schools placed under emergency financial management.

2010: City of Flint, City of Lapeer, and Genesee, Sanilac, and Lapeer Counties form the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) to explore the possibility of constructing a new Lake Huron pipeline.

2010: Cities of Benton Harbor and Pontiac placed under emergency financial management.

Mar. 16, 2011: PA 4 takes effect, expanding the powers of EFMs (now referred to as “emergency managers,” or EMs).

Sep. 30, 2011: Governor Rick Snyder appoints an eight-member Financial Review Team to evaluate whether a financial emergency exists in Flint.

Oct. 2011: Occupy Flint sets up encampment at King Street and 2nd Avenue.

Nov. 7, 2011: Flint Financial Review Team concludes that a financial emergency exists and recommends the appointment of an EM.

Nov. 10, 2011: Mayor Dayne Walling reelected. State of Michigan announces that Flint will be appointed an EM.

Dec. 1, 2011: EM Michael Brown takes office.

Feb. 29, 2012: Stand Up For Democracy coalition turns in 226,637 signatures to put PA 4 referendum on November ballot.

Jun. 2012: Last remnants of Occupy Flint encampment dismantled.

Aug. 8, 2012: PA 4 suspended after certification of referendum. State enforces PA 72 in the meantime. Ed Kurtz appointed EFM in Flint under PA 72.

Nov. 6, 2012: Michigan voters repeal PA 4.

Dec. 26, 2012: PA 436 signed into law, restoring most of the powers granted by PA 4.

Mar. 14, 2013: Detroit placed under emergency management.

Mar. 25, 2013: Flint City Council votes to support city joining KWA pipeline, under assumption that Flint will remain a customer of DWSD until pipeline is completed.

Mar. 28, 2013: PA 436 takes effect.

Apr. 16, 2013: Flint EM Ed Kurtz signs agreement with KWA and informs state treasurer of city’s intent to join pipeline.

Apr. 17, 2013: DWSD sends letter to EM Kurtz announcing termination of water contract in one year’s time.

Jun. 26, 2013: EM Kurtz adopts resolution to prepare Flint Water Treatment Plant to treat Flint River water.

Jul. 8, 2013: Michael Brown begins second term as EM.

Jul. 18, 2013: Led by EM Kevyn Orr, Detroit files for bankruptcy—the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.

Sep. 11, 2013: EM Michael Brown resigns and is replaced by Darnell Earley.

Apr. 25, 2014: City of Flint switches water supply to Flint River.

Spring–Fall 2014: Massive wave of water shutoffs in Detroit attracts international attention.

Jul. 1, 2014: EM Earley gives Mayor Dayne Walling control of Departments of Planning and Development, Public Works.

Aug.–Sep. 2014: Three separate boil advisories issued after coliform bacteria detected in water on Flint’s west side.

Aug. 21, 2014: Flint Democracy Defense League opens emergency water relief site at Mission of Hope.

Oct. 10, 2014: Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) forms, establishing a regional water partnership to manage Detroit-owned water infrastructure outside the city of Detroit.

Oct. 13, 2014: General Motors announces it will no longer use Flint River water at its engine plant, citing corrosion of engine parts.

Nov. 4, 2014: Flint voters approve proposal to begin a city charter review process.

Dec. 10, 2014: Detroit emerges from bankruptcy; EM Kevyn Orr resigns.

Jan. 2, 2015: Notice sent to residents informing them that Flint is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act due to high levels of total trihalomethanes.

Jan. 12, 2015: DWSD Director Sue McCormick offers to resume selling water to Flint on an emergency basis.

Jan. 13, 2015: Jerry Ambrose appointed EM in Flint.

Jan. 2015: First community meetings on water quality sponsored by city officials.

Feb. 14, 2015: Flint water activist groups unite for Valentine’s Day march.

Feb. 23, 2015: Natasha Henderson begins position as Flint city administrator on a five-year contract.

Feb. 17, 2015: City of Flint announces formation of technical advisory committee and citizens’ advisory committee on water issues.

Mar. 23, 2015: Flint City Council votes 7 to 1 to “do all things necessary”1 to reconnect to Detroit water.

Apr. 2015: EM Jerry Ambrose declares Flint’s financial emergency over and steps down. State of Michigan appoints Receivership Transition Advisory Board to review decisions by local officials.

May 19, 2015: First meeting of Flint Charter Review Commission.

Jun. 5, 2015: Coalition for Clean Water files lawsuit alleging that the city “recklessly endangered”2 the health and safety of residents by switching to the Flint River and demanding a return to Detroit water.

Jul. 3–10, 2015: Detroit-to-Flint Water Justice Journey.

Jul. 9, 2015: ACLU reporter Curt Guyette reports on leaked memo by EPA employee Miguel del Toral about lead contamination at the home of LeeAnne Walters and other Flint residents and the city’s lack of corrosion control.

Jul. 9, 2015: Mayor Dayne Walling drinks tap water on the local news to reassure residents of its safety.

Aug. 2015: Activists begin water sampling effort in collaboration with Virginia Tech engineers.

Aug. 4, 2015: Incumbent Dayne Walling and challenger Karen Weaver place first and second, respectively, in mayoral primaries.

Aug. 17, 2015: Circuit Court judge issues injunction halting water shutoffs and ordering the City of Flint to lower water and sewer rates by 35 percent.

Sep. 2015: Virginia Tech team announces findings from activist-led sampling effort, warns residents that Flint has a serious lead-in-water problem.

Sep. 24, 2015: In a press conference at Hurley hospital, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha announces findings of study showing doubling of blood lead levels in young children since switch to Flint River.

Oct. 1, 2015: Genesee County Health Department declares public health emergency in Flint.

Oct. 2, 2015: State announces Flint water action plan, including money for filters, water testing, and better corrosion control.

Oct. 8, 2015: Governor Snyder announces $12 million plan to switch Flint’s water supply back to Detroit water system.

Nov. 3, 2015: Karen Weaver elected mayor of Flint.

Nov. 2015: City of Flint begins mailing water shutoff notices to 1,800 delinquent households.

Dec. 14, 2015: Mayor Karen Weaver declares state of emergency and calls for Genesee Board of Commissioners to approve declaration.

Jan. 1, 2016: GLWA begins operations under CEO Sue McCormick.

Jan. 4, 2016: Genesee County Board of Commissioners approves Mayor Weaver’s emergency declaration, opening up possibility of more state and federal assistance.

Jan. 5, 2016: Governor Snyder declares a state emergency, requests federal assistance.

Jan. 12, 2016: Governor Snyder activates National Guard to assist with water and filter distribution in Flint.

Jan. 15, 2016: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette launches criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis.

Jan. 16, 2016: Governor Snyder and officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announce that a major outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has been ongoing since June 2014, with eighty-seven cases reported and ten (later increased to twelve) deaths, possibly linked to the switch to the Flint River.

Jan. 16, 2016: President Obama declares a federal state of emergency authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief efforts in Flint and making $5 million in federal aid available for ninety days. Obama rejects Governor Snyder’s request for a major disaster declaration and $96 million in aid because the water crisis is a manmade disaster.

Jan. 22, 2016: Power to hire and fire city department directors restored to Mayor Weaver.

Jan. 29, 2016: Scott Smith of Water Defense begins sampling in city and sounds alarm about contaminants other than lead that may make bathing and showering unsafe.

Feb. 3, 2016: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds first hearing on Flint water crisis.

Feb. 12, 2016: City Administrator Natasha Henderson relieved of her responsibilities by Mayor Weaver.

Feb. 26, 2016: Michigan Legislature passes bill allocating $30 million to cover 65 percent of Flint residents’ water bills going back to Apr. 30, 2014.

Mar. 4, 2016: Fast Start program begins replacement of lead service lines.

Mar. 6, 2016: Democratic presidential debate held in Flint.

Mar. 15 and 17, 2016: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds second and third hearings on Flint water crisis.

Mar. 21, 2016: Governor-appointed Flint Water Task Force issues its final report, concluding that the crisis is a case of environmental injustice and that primary responsibility rests with the state.

Apr. 20, 2016: First criminal charges brought by AG Schuette, against Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Michael Glasgow of the Flint Water Treatment Plant.

May 4, 2016: President Obama visits Flint, reassures residents that filtered water is safe to drink.

May 26, 2016: Flint City Council’s powers restored on a provisional basis.

Jun. 8, 2016: Michigan Legislature passes supplemental spending bill with $114.3 million in immediate aid for Flint, including $25 million for replacement of lead service lines and another $12.8 million for water bill credits.

Jun. 22, 2016: Civil charges announced against private contractors Veolia and Lockwood, Andrews, and Newnam, Inc.

Jul. 19, 2016: Donald Trump wins Republican nomination.

Jul. 26, 2016: Hillary Clinton wins Democratic nomination, Mayor Weaver delivers pro-Clinton speech at Democratic National Convention.

Jul. 29, 2016: Criminal charges announced against six employees of MDEQ and MDHHS.

Aug. 14, 2016: Federal declaration of emergency ends.

Sep. 2016: Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership launches new study of Legionella contamination in water system.

Oct. 19, 2016: Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency releases final report.

Nov. 8, 2016: Donald Trump elected President of the United States, promises renewed federal emphasis on infrastructure.

Nov. 10, 2016: Federal judge issues preliminary injunction sought by the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Michigan ACLU, and Flint resident Melissa Mays, ordering State of Michigan to deliver bottled water door to door.

Dec. 20, 2016: Criminal charges announced against EMs Darnell Earley and Jerry Ambrose and two city employees.

Feb. 2017: City of Flint officials threaten new round of water shutoffs.

Feb. 17, 2017: Michigan Civil Rights Commission releases final report on Flint water crisis, finding that structural racism played a role in causing the crisis.

Feb. 24, 2017: Petition language filed for recall of Mayor Weaver.

Mar. 1, 2017: State of Michigan ends 65 percent reimbursement of Flint water bills.

Mar. 28, 2017: State of Michigan settles civil lawsuit brought by Concerned Pastors, et al. Settlement requires state to pay the City of Flint $87 million to identify and replace at least eighteen thousand unsafe service lines by 2020 and places conditions on the closing of state-funded water resource sites, but excuses state from door-to-door water delivery.

Apr. 2017: City of Flint sends warning letters threatening to place liens on over eight thousand homes with delinquent water accounts.

Apr. 18, 2017: Mayor Weaver announces recommendation that Flint remain with GLWA as its long-term water supplier, rather than switching as planned to the KWA pipeline.

Apr. 20, 2017: Six activists arrested at town hall on water source decision.

May 17, 2017: Flint City Council passes resolution calling for one-year moratorium on water liens. A month later, resolution is overturned by the Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB).

Jun. 14, 2017: Five officials including MDHHS Director Nick Lyon and EM Darnell Earley charged with involuntary manslaughter for failure to address threat of Legionnaires’ Disease. Criminal charges also announced against Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells.

Jun. 26, 2017: Flint City Council votes to support short-term extension of contract with GLWA but postpones decision on long-term contract.

Jun. 28, 2017: MDEQ files complaint in US District Court alleging that council’s refusal to back long-term GLWA contract violates March settlement agreement, EPA emergency order, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. In August, federal judge orders state and city into mediation.

Aug. 8, 2017: Flint voters decisively approve revised city charter, including changes meant to stop misuse of water and sewer funds.

Aug. 11, 2017: State begins to close water resource sites, citing improved lead levels. Four sites remain open indefinitely.

Oct. 2, 2017: US Supreme Court declines to rule on EM law’s constitutionality.

Nov. 7, 2017: Mayor Weaver survives recall election; new pro-Weaver city council elected.

Nov. 21, 2017: City Council votes to approve thirty-year contract with GLWA, with amendments.

Nov. 29, 2017: Petition filed with Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requesting investigation into violation of the right to democracy in Flint.

Dec. 1, 2017: Lawsuit filed alleging PA 436 is racially discriminatory, violates Equal Protection Clause.

Jan. 10, 2018: RTAB votes to return day-to-day financial decision making to City of Flint.

Jan. 12, 2018: MDEQ announces that last eighteen months of sampling data show Flint’s water quality is restored.

Apr. 4, 2018: Governor Snyder officially ends state receivership in Flint.

Apr. 6, 2018: State of Michigan announces end of free bottled water.

Apr. 12, 2018: Judge approves $4.1 million settlement in suit brought by ACLU and Education Law Center, committing State of Michigan to screening of Flint children for lead-related health deficits.

Apr. 23, 2018: Flint resident LeeAnne Walters wins Goldman Environmental Prize.

Apr. 26, 2018: Virginia Tech team receives $1.9 million EPA grant to conduct nationwide study of lead in drinking water.

May 10, 2018: Nestlé agrees to donate 1.6 million bottles of water to Flint residents through Labor Day. The company later extends donations through the rest of the year.

May 10, 2018: FlintComplaints letter sent to variety of scientific and engineering organizations asking for investigation into behavior of Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech.

May 17, 2018: Doctors at Hurley hospital argue that Flint children were “lead-exposed” rather than “lead-poisoned,” touching off debate over terminology and severity of the water crisis.

Jun. 23, 2018: Highland Park school district released from state receivership, marking the first time since the year 2000 that no local government in Michigan is under state control.

Jul. 9, 2018: Marc Edwards files $3 million defamation suit against three water activists from Flint and Washington, D.C.

Jul. 19, 2018: Academics from universities in the United States and abroad sign letter in support of signatories to FlintComplaints letter.

Aug. 20, 2018: MDHHS Director Nick Lyon bound over to trial on four counts, including involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?