The Cost by Northeastern University

“The Cost” is an infographic depicting the physical, mental, political, and financial costs of one of the most catastrophic disasters in U.S. history. The water of Flint, Michigan was contaminated with high levels of lead. Even though clean water has been restored, only time will tell how much it truly costs.

In April 2014, an unfortunate decision to switch water sources triggered a series of governance and infrastructure failures that contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan’s seventh-largest city, with high lead levels. For residents of Flint, whose concerns about water quality went unaddressed for more than a year and whose children may suffer the lifelong effects of lead poisoning, the crisis has exacted an indescribable cost and driven deep fissures in public trust. For government leaders and regulators — in Michigan and nationally — it has been a merciless lesson in the political cost of deferring critical infrastructure investments and prioritizing economic concerns over providing clean, safe water.

I am a Flint native. I was born and raised in Flint for 18 years and most of my family still resides there, so I visit often. The city has seen its share of problems with the economy failing and crime rates rising, but it is still home.

“The Cost” shows the events before, during, and after the crisis, which is ongoing through the lingering effects of lead exposure.