Flint, Michigan: An Ongoing Crisis with No End


By : Leslie Torres, Staff Writer

    Human beings need three simple resources in order to not only survive, but thrive: housing, food, and water. In a seemingly dystopian take, the citizens of Flint, Michigan only have two of those resources. Poisoned water, as confirmed by the national Environmental Protection Agency, runs rampant in the city, making it impossible to drink, shower, or use the tap water in any way without rising the level of toxic lead in the body system. For four years, the average Flint citizen is forced to spend $400 a month on water bottles, according to economic-based website Good Money. One question remains: at what point will the federal government correct this crisis?

    This crisis began in 2014 when the state of Michigan ordered the city of Flint to begin using their local water source, the Flint River, for the use of tap water service lines. This was done in order to maintain a water source while construction for a pipeline leading from Lake Huron was in place. However, the state and city officials both neglected to ensure proper decontamination from the river source, and also neglected to update the ancient water pipes. The lead-ridden water led to glasses of murky liquid, city-wide rashes and hair loss. 6,000-12,000 children were exposed to lead and 12 people died as a result of this health  crisis.

    Free water filters were offered to Flint citizens, but these filters, very counterproductive, do not work if exposed to high levels of lead. This results in hundreds of dollars spent on water bottles–a basic necessity for life on this planet–every single month for a city with a very high poverty rate–40%. Furthermore, the lead running through pipelines corroded plumbing systems of homes belonging to each citizen. This has resulted in more than $10,000 dollars of damage in each citizen’s home. The citizens of Flint cannot afford to fix this mess the state and city government created, and they shouldn’t have to.

    There is more than $1.5 billion dollars needed simply to replace the old water and plumbing pipes of the city. This estimate does not include the sum needed to provide recovery for the thousands of children exposed to high levels of lead. This estimate furthermore does not include the sum needed for new appliances for each citizen that required tap water, such as kitchen sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, all of which would have been ruined by the corrosive water allowed into the plumbing systems by the government.

    The state of Michigan has provided $247 million dollars to assist the citizens of Flint, but not to replace the faulty infrastructure which is the root (besides the government) of this health crisis. So where is the federal government in all this? What does President Trump, who promised change for this burdened city during election times, plan to change for Flint? Sufficient funds should be set aside and directed towards rebuilding the city’s poor pipeline infrastructure, not a simple block grant which will allow the poor decision making Flint and Michigan governments to misuse the funds. Safe water is supposedly to be ready by 2020, but safe water was also promised in 2014.