The Flint Water Crisis: A Lasting Catastrophe

Flint residents have been updating the board since the Crisis first arose and will continue to be update daily until the crisis finally comes to a close.

Merrett Brewer

Flint residents have been updating the board since the Crisis first arose and will continue to be update daily until the crisis finally comes to a close.

Over four years ago, Flint, Michigan began an extensive battle with their lead-contaminated water. In an effort to save money, Flint began to retrieve their clean water from the Flint River instead of looking in Detroit. Right after the switch was made in the April of 2014, the residents of Flint began to notice an unflattering smell and color.

After drinking from the new water source, residents began to show multiple health concerns, including hair loss, severe rashes, and high levels of lead in children’s blood. This caused government officials to look into the newly accessed water. Officials claimed that the iron levels were normal and nothing to be concerned with which was definitely not the case.

The problem was found in the corroding pipes that carried the Flint River water. After switching back to the original Detroit supply, the damage was already done and was irreversible. Due to the limited access to clean water, the government sought to provide plastic water bottles to all families affected by this travesty; however, the water crisis still continues today, four years later. After the multiple years passing, the government, specifically Governor Rick Snyder, has decided to withhold the distribution of water bottles in the community due to the lead levels in the water refusing to surpass the federal limit in the past two years.

Merrett Brewer
Local colleges near Flint are still experiencing lead issues in the school water system for over a thousand days.

“We have worked diligently to restore the water quality and the scientific data now proves the water system is stable and the need for bottled water has ended,” said Snyder.

Residents and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver are combating Snyder’s decision stating that the water remains dangerous.

“We did not cause the man-made water disaster, therefore adequate resources should continue being provided until the problem is fixed and all the lead and galvanized pipes have been replaced,” said Weaver.

The pipes that were deemed the source of the water problem have not been replaced yet. Flint is working with contractors to replace the infected lines by the year 2020. While a mere 6,000 pipes have been replaced in the past few years, there are still over 12,000 pipes that need to be addressed. The funding for the project is composed of taxpayers money and the federal government.

“Michigan taxpayers have provided more than $350 million to Flint, in addition to the $100 million from the federal government… The funding is helping with water quality improvements, pipe replacement, health care, nutritional food distribution, educational resources, job training and creation, and more,” said Snyder.

Soon after the discovery that the pipes were the issue, Michigan officials inflicted felony charges against two former state-appointed emergency managers, accusing them of focusing on saving money rather than on the safety of Flint residents.

“All too prevalent in this Flint water investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” said the State’s Attorney, Bill Schuette.

The former managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, face charges of false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. These accusations also reopened a widespread debate in Michigan over the state’s emergency management provision. Questions about whether the system removes power and control of local issues from those residents; however, many believe this issue is due to race discrimination in black-based cities similar to Flint. Residents of these cities assert that the intense state-assigned oversight oppressess voters, shifts control from mostly Democratic cities to the state’s Republican government and risks favoring financial discipline over public health.

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The water is clearly more contaminated than its Detroit counterpart.

“The state criminal investigation into Flint’s water crisis, opened in January, previously had led to charges against one employee of Flint’s water plant and eight state officials, including a state epidemiologist and the former leader of Michigan’s municipal drinking water office,” said New York Times Reporter Monica Davey.

Four years after the Flint Water Crisis first unfolded, the winner of the 2018 Governor’s Election will have to face the aftermath and the continual process of restoring the pipes and water system. With Governor Snyder’s legacy taking a substantial hit with the crisis, it is doubtful he will have any advantage against candidates such as Shri Thanedar (D) and Dr. Jim Hines (R). The future for Flint is unforeseeable, but there are hopes that a new governor will be a catalyst for the ending of this catastrophe.