Flint Water Crisis

Caitlin Husted

As we scroll through our Twitter and Facebook feeds, along the many trending topics lies the Flint Water Crisis.

Beginning in Flint, Mich. in 2014, the crisis developed after Flint changed its water sources from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the Flint River. Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s water was sourced from Lake Huron as well as the Detroit River. The Flint River, however, provided its drinkers with a series of problems due to lead contamination, which resulted in a serious public health danger.

The leading contamination originated from the corrosive Flint River water, which caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of lead. While this had been going on since 2014, it wasn’t until Jan. 2016 that Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, declared the city to be in a state of emergency.

Less than two weeks after, President Obama declared it as a federal state of emergency and authorized additional help from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The switch originated due to Darnell Earley, the then-emergency manager, to save money by switching the city’s water supply to the Flint River for a temporary period of time. While this may have helped save some money, due to the lack of adding anti-corrosion chemicals to the new water supply, the lead from the aging pipes had free access to the water used in citizens’ homes.

Alexis DeSollar, a senior acting major said, “It’s just so sad to see a town have to go through such a crisis that could have been avoided if those in charge would have paid a little more attention.

Now, not only do people of Flint have to worry about the water, but they also have to worry about the expense this disaster is going to cause for the town.

According to the article “Hope – and Clean Water – Remains Elusive for the People of Flint” in the Washington Post, Mayor Karen Weaver “estimated that the cost to remove lead service lines from 15,000 homes is at about $45 million.”

The article goes on to state that, “Combating the potential impact of lead poisoning in the 9,000 children exposed to tainted water starts at $100 million, according to Mona Hanna-Attisha the pediatrician who is proposing the multifaceted program.”

A complete overhaul of Flint’s water distribution system could cost more than $1 billion, a near insurmountable amount for a city to pay, high enough that only the federal government could pay it.

While there has been around $28 million provided by the state and some private donations, the citizens of Flint are still unsure as to where the money will come from.

To make matters even worse, 6,000-12,000 children have been exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead in the Flint area, causing a range of serious health problems. In addition, the water change is also assumed to be the possible cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that has killed 10 people and affected another 77.

Because of the crisis, eight lawsuits have been filed against government officials, but we have to wonder, is that enough? People are ill due to the desire to save money and a lack of attention to important details. The worst part is that this whole situation could have been avoided if it was executed properly.

Many lives are being negatively affected by the situation and is either causing them to live in unrest or uproot their lives entirely, neither is a good option. While people ban together to take action, all we can do is donate to the cause and hope that the matter is able to be resolved to bring peace, health, and clean water to those people living in fear in Flint.