Parul Sehgal in the New York Times:
From the start, the people of Flint, Mich., knew something was wrong with the water coming out of their taps — it was brown and orange, visibly full of particles, frothy and foul-smelling. Their hair started falling out, and showers left their bodies burning with red welts. Their plants and pets began to die. On a hot day, children playing in the spray of a water hydrant were streaked with coffee-colored liquid.
In the spring of 2014, the city, as part of a cost-cutting plan devised under emergency management, switched its water source from Lake Huron to the notorious Flint River, once so polluted it was said to have caught fire. America’s infrastructure is old; corrosion control is federally mandated to prevent pipes from crumbling into the water, but none was instituted in this case.
That summer General Motors, based in the city, noticed that the new water seemed to be corroding engines. The company swiftly shifted to a new water supply. But the city strenuously argued that the water was safe for human consumption, even as residents protested and got sicker and sicker.
Two new books approach this disaster from different angles.