Flint, Michigan is in a state of emergency after residents complained of foul looking and smelling water for over a year without any resolution to their concerns. Now, it seems things are only going to get worse before they get better as the community begins to assess just how much lead poisoning they have been exposed to and what this means for the future of Flint.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time penny-pinching lead to water contamination. Crestwood, IL was exposed to cancer causing chemicals for more than two decades.
Flint’s water supply was switched in April 2014 after their 50-year-old deal with Detroit expired, but then switched back in October 2015: residents were getting their water from Lake Huron, rather than renewing the contract, officials decided to use a different source that would be much cheaper, the Flint River. Unfortunately, people began to experience problems with their health. In an effort to remedy the situation, chorine was added to disinfect the water, but that meant residents had to boil the water before using it, which made the lead concentration worse.
The water was never adequate for drinking and there were early warning signs indicating this was a poor and hastily made decision. The water supply from the Flint River was only meant to be used in case of an emergency because plants are not prepared to treat the water to the magnitude and time frame that is was used for.
Brent Wright, the water plant supervisor, stated, “We’re going to do the minimum upgrades we have to” and also noted that the Flint water had not been softened [for taste] since 2007.
In addition to this ominous foreshadowing of what was to come to the residents of Flint, Mark Edwards who is an expert on pipe corrosion said, “Any competent person should have seen this water will eat up iron and eat up lead,” and chemical tests could have easily proven that. Officials argue that not only is this sort of testing not required, also stating that the water was approved as a backup supply.
Residents are now looking at Governor Rick Snyder and demanding he resign, something he assures will not happen. The community feels he has done too little too late, declaring Flint a state of emergency two months after the water was switched back. According to Forbes, the effects of this may come at a cost to the rest of the nation if Michigan is not able to provide sufficient funding to fix and replace the lines.
Right now, residents still need help and a list of organizations where you can donate can be found here.