The Flint Water Crisis

Jupneet Singh and Nicole Kim

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In April 2014, the city of Flint disconnected from the Detroit Water System.  Citizens immediately reported pungent odors and unnatural colors in the water. In that same year, General Motors announced it would stop using the water from the Flint because it was spoiling engine parts.  There were many reports that the water was unsafe to drink, including a Virginia Tech report.  The officials avoided the issue, and told citizens to “relax” until October 2015, when Flint switched back to Detroit water.  

But by now, the damage has been done.  Children with elevated lead levels had been doubled, and tripled in some neighborhoods.  Many children attained anemia, rashes, hair loss, and infections.  When one resident had her water tested, there were 13,200 lead parts per billion, when the accepted level is 15.  Lead first can lead to harm in the blood.  For kids, experts say, no level is safe.  Then, damage to the brain can occur, especially for children under the age of 6.  Long term exposure can lead to lead buildup in organs and bones.  

But how did this happen?  Well, the Flint River water corroded the ancient pipes which then contaminated the water that was coming out of people taps.  Officials ignored the many reports and complaints of citizens that something was not right.  When you look at the demographics, it may explain the governor’s seeming indifference.  This city is mostly African-American.  The average income is less than $25,000, and 60% of Flint and the surrounding county did not vote for Rick Snyder, the current Governor of Michigan.   “I’ll tell you what,” Hillary Clinton said, “-if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it there would’ve been action.”

“I knew there were water issues in Flint. But did I know there were unsafe blood levels? No,” Snyder said, according to TIME.  No matter what he did or did not know, proving he is trustworthy will be difficult after he turned a blind eye on the water in Flint, which caused much heartburn for many families.  

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