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Lead and Copper

  • William Hart, Director
  • Patrick Letterii, Producer
  • Alex Olsen, Producer
  • Glen Zipper, Producer
  • Steven Leckart, Producer

A photo of a water tank labeled 'Flint Water Plant' in the winter.

About the Project

Long before the Flint water crisis became national news in 2014, the region had already suffered through decades of economic hardship. When the city of Detroit terminates its agreement to continue supplying water to neighboring Flint, the Governor of Michigan appoints a special Emergency Manager to step in. Soon after, a reckless bureaucratic decision is made to begin tapping the Flint River. The result:untreated river water begins corroding Flint’s lead pipes, slowly poisoning tens of thousands of families throughout the city. However, the community is – at first – left completely in the dark about the real and present danger looming underground. As months go by, citizens begin experiencing a wave of horrific symptoms, including rashes, hair loss, aching muscles and joints, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. At first, the cause is unclear, but eventually, people begin noticing yellow-brown water pouring out of their kitchen faucets and showers. As concerned citizens begin asking their local government for answers, it starts to become painfully clear the local powers that be – the politicians who were entrusted to protect the people of Flint – are woefully unprepared and incapable of curtailing the budding tragedy. What’s more, the authorities are actively denying the full extent of the crisis.