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But the original problem is that Flint’s river water is much more difficult to treat than water from Lake Huron, the city’s water source from 1974 to 2014.
Flint’s water-treatment staff were not able to successfully make Flint River water safe to drink.
Immediately after switching to the Flint River, Flint’s drinking water spiked in bacteria and trihalomethane readings.
A Flint-area outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease also coincided with the switch, causing at least 10 deaths.
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short history of pollution of the Flint River is gathered from multiple interviews and news sources, including over 400 historical documents from The Flint Journal, the City of Flint, the Flint Public Library, Flint’s Sloan Museum, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of the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.
The more polluted a water source is, the more processing required to make the water safe to drink.
Federal law mandates adding anti-corrosive agents to drinking water in large cities; this standard water treatment practice was not followed.
Finally, stagnation anywhere along the line raises the likelihood of bacteria and makes the water less safe to drink.
Lead poisoning is the most widespread and serious health problem associated with Flint’s drinking water; children with prolonged exposure to lead experience a range of developmental problems that are incurable.Most of the contaminants now in Flint’s drinking water were introduced during or after processing.For all drinking water, the first concern is bacteria, which can cause diseases like hepatitis, Legionnaire’s disease, and other illnesses.Flint’s water crisis begins with the pollution of the Flint River, which has been going on for well over a century."It would be a mistake to conclude that Flint’s predicament is simply the result of government mismanagement," says Andrew Highsmith, author of Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan, And The Fate Of The American Metropolis.
Contaminants certainly ended up in the city’s drinking supply.