The Drink: Former Mayor of Flint Shares His Experience of the Flint Water Crisis
Dayne Walling twice drank Flint’s toxic water on television. The first time was in April of 2014. The City of Flint, under pressure from an austerity-obsessed Republican state government, changed its water source from the more expensive Detroit municipal water system to the cheaper Flint River. As the Mayor of Flint, Walling is seen turning off the connection to the Detroit system and happily guzzling a glass of water from the new source.
The second time was a year later, in July 2015. Flint residents were complaining that foul-smelling water was making them sick. In response, Mayor Walling tweeted that his family continued to drink Flint water at home every day, the subtext being that there was nothing to worry about. He was then challenged by local TV station WNEM to drink the water on air again. This time he drank it out of a coffee cup.
A month later, an independent researcher named Marc Edwards proved conclusively that the water being drawn from the Flint River water was 19x more corrosive than the Detroit water. This was 8 months after a local GM plant stopped using Flint water because it was corroding engine parts. Walling acted quickly, did everything he could to make things right, but the damage to his reputation was terminal. He lost his bid for re-election in the Fall of 2015.