Clean water is essential to our business. The good news is that our organic farmers have 100% control over water sourcing, from the sprinkler systems buried in the soil, all the way back to the streams, aquifers and reservoirs from which the water originates. When we consider forming a partnership with a new farm, they must meet this (and many other) requirements or we walk. It’s that simple.
The bad news is that in places Flint, Michigan, politics as usual can all too easily muck things up. The politicians responsible for protecting the basic human rights of their constituents are greatly influenced by mega corporations who could care less.
Here is a timeline of the water crisis in Flint. We think understanding how it unfolded can be a tool used for preventing it in the future.
April 2014: In an effort to save money, Flint begins drawing water from the Flint River for its 100,000 residents, instead of relying on water from Detroit. The move is considered temporary while the city waits to connect to a new regional water system. Residents immediately complain about the smell, taste and appearance of the water, and raise health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems.
January 2015: Detroit offers to reconnect Flint to its water system, but Flint leaders insist the water is safe.
Sept. 24, 2015: A group of doctors urges Flint to stop using the Flint River for water after finding high levels of lead in the blood of children. State regulators insist the water is safe.
Sept. 29, 2015: Gov. Rick Snyder pledges to take action in response to the lead levels — the first acknowledgment by the state that lead is a problem.
October 2015: Snyder announces that the state will spend $1 million to buy water filters and test water in Flint public schools, and days later calls for Flint to go back to using water from Detroit’s system.
Oct. 15, 2015: The Michigan Legislature and Snyder approve nearly $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million to help switch its drinking water back to Detroit.
Dec. 29, 2015: Snyder accepts the resignation of Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologizes for what occurred in Flint.
Jan. 5, 2016: Snyder declares a state of emergency in Flint, the same day federal officials confirm that they are investigating. A week later, the Michigan National Guard begins helping to distribute bottled water and filters, while Snyder asks the federal government for help.
Jan. 13, 2016: Michigan health officials report an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases — some fatal — over the past two years in the county that includes Flint.
Jan. 14, 2016: Snyder asks the Obama administration for major disaster declaration and more federal aid. The White House provides federal aid and an emergency declaration on Jan. 16, but not the disaster declaration.
Jan. 15, 2016: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette begins an “independent review” into the Flint crisis.
Mid-March. 2016: State officials testify before Congress, including Snyder and the state-appointed emergency manager who oversaw Flint when the water source was switched to the river.
March 23, 2016: A governor-appointed panel concludes that the state of Michigan is “fundamentally accountable” for the crisis because of decisions made by environmental regulators.
April 20, 2016: Two state officials and a local official are charged with evidence tampering and other crimes in the Michigan attorney general’s investigation — the first to be levied in the probe.
Aug. 14: A federal emergency declaration over Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis ends, but state officials say work continues to fix the drinking water system and provide services to city residents.
Dec. 2: Researchers report that water in Flint is improving after finding no detectable levels of lead in 57 percent of homes during another round of tests. But they caution residents to continue using filters.
Dec. 10: Congress approves a wide-ranging bill to authorize water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in Flint’s drinking water.
Dec. 16: Congressional Republicans quietly close a yearlong investigation into Flint’s crisis, faulting both state officials and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dec. 20: Schuette charges former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose with multiple 20-year felonies for their failure to protect the residents of Flint from health hazards caused by contaminated drinking water. He also charges Earley, Ambrose and two Flint city employees with felony counts of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses in the issuance of bonds to pay for a portion of the water project that led to the crisis.
Feb. 17: The Michigan Civil Rights Commission issues a report that finds “systemic racism” going back decades is at the core of problems that caused the water crisis in the majority black city of Flint.
March 16: Snyder announces that his administration will enact the country’s toughest lead limit for water in the wake of the lead contamination in Flint.
March 28: Water lines at 18,000 homes in Flint will be replaced under a landmark deal approved by a judge, marking a milestone in the effort to overcome the disastrous decision in 2014 to draw water from the Flint River without treating it to prevent lead contamination.
June 14: Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area. He and four others are charged with involuntary manslaughter. The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, is charged with obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.
Schuette says he is not charging Snyder.