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Odd color, chlorine taste: Complaints plague city as it seeks water independence from Detroit

  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 photo, Genetha Campbell carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich, Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    In this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 photo, Genetha Campbell carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich, Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Feb. 3, 2015, photo, Lemott Thomas carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich. Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    In this Feb. 3, 2015, photo, Lemott Thomas carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich. Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Feb. 3, 2015 photo, Flint residents receive free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich. Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    In this Feb. 3, 2015 photo, Flint residents receive free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich. Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)  (The Associated Press)

Less than an hour's drive from one of Earth's great fresh water sources, some people in Flint are searching for a drop worth drinking.

Since the city left the Detroit water system, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of the water they're getting from the city's river. They've also raised health concerns, including hair loss and rashes. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting out parts.

Tests show the water meets safety guidelines. Officials contend Flint will be better off once a Lake Huron pipe is complete.

The headaches underscore the challenges of being the first major city to break from Detroit and offer lessons for others weighing if it's worth going solo.