How Did The Flint Water Crisis Occur

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How Did The Flint Water Crisis Occur – Afraid to use tap water to wash food, Flint residents Melissa and Adam Mays prepare meals with bottled water.

A story of environmental injustice and poor decision making, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan began in 2014 when the city switched its drinking water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River to save costs. Inadequate water treatment and testing has led to a number of significant water quality and health problems for Flint residents; These are problems that are chronically ignored, ignored, and dismissed by government officials, even as complaints about the water being stinky, discolored, and bad increase. In the Flint homes, piped water testing for 18 months caused skin rashes, hair loss, and itchy skin. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission, a state-established body, concluded that the government’s poor response to the Flint crisis was “a result of systemic racism.”

How Did The Flint Water Crisis Occur

How Did The Flint Water Crisis Occur

Later studies would reveal that contaminated water also contributed to doubling and in some cases tripling blood lead levels of urban children, endangering the health of the younger generation. Ultimately, it was the determined and tireless efforts of the Flint community, supported by doctors, scientists, journalists, and citizen activists, that shed light on the city’s massive mismanagement of drinking water and forced a showdown on how such a scandal could have happened. was allowed to happen.

How The Flint River Got So Toxic

Long before the last crisis hit national headlines, Flint City was familiar with water issues. For more than a century, the Flint River, which runs through the heart of the city, has served as an unofficial dumping ground for the processed and untreated wastes of the many local industries that have sprung up along its shores, from transport factories to automobiles. to meat packing houses. wood and paper mills and factories. The waterway also received raw sewage from the city’s waste treatment plant, agricultural and urban runoff, and toxic seepage dumps. Not surprisingly, the Flint River is said to have caught fire twice.

As the riverside industries developed, so did the city’s economy. In the mid-20th century, the birthplace of General Motors, Flint was the thriving home of nearly 200,000 people, most of whom worked in the booming automotive industry. But the 1980s halted this period of prosperity, as rising oil prices and car imports led to the closure of auto factories and the layoffs of workers, many of whom eventually moved elsewhere. The city found itself in sudden decline: Flint’s population has since fallen to 100,000 people, most of them African-American, and about 45 percent of its residents live below the poverty line. Almost one in six houses in the city are abandoned.

Such was the case in 2011, when the cash-strapped Flint, which ran a $25 million deficit, came under state control. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has appointed an emergency manager—an elected, unelected official who basically sets local policy—to oversee and reduce city costs. This precipitated the city’s tragic decision in 2013 to end five decades of purified water piping for Detroit residents in favor of a cheaper alternative: temporarily pumping water from the Flint River until a new pipeline can be built. huron Although the river water was highly corrosive, Flint officials left it untreated and lead leaked into thousands of homes through aging pipes.

Five-month-old Dakota Privates from Flint received heel blood to test lead levels at Carriage Township Ministries in 2016.

What Happened To Flint Water

Shortly after we started supplying residents with water from the Flint River in April 2014, residents began complaining that the water in their taps looked, smelled, and tasted bad. Despite protests from residents carrying discolored jugs of water, officials argued the water was safe. A study by Virginia Tech researchers the following year revealed the problem: Water samples collected from 252 homes through the organized efforts of residents showed that lead levels were rising rapidly throughout the city, with about 17 percent of samples being recorded above the federal “action level.” 15 parts per billion (ppb), the level at which corrective action should be taken. More than 40 percent measured more than 5 ppb of lead, which the researchers considered indicative of a “very serious” problem.

The findings, reported by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha in September 2015, were even more alarming: The incidence of high blood lead levels in children citywide has nearly doubled since 2014 and nearly tripled in certain neighborhoods. As Hanna-Attisha puts it, “Lead is one of the most damning things you can do to a child in their entire life.” Nearly 9,000 children in Flint received lead-contaminated water for 18 months.

Flint’s water supply was riddled with more than lead. The city’s shift from Detroit’s waters to the Flint River coincided with an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease (a severe form of pneumonia) that killed 12 people and sickened at least 87 between June 2014 and October 2015. The third largest recorded outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in U.S. history, and the discovery of fecal coliform bacteria in city water in 2014, likely resulted from the city not having enough chlorine in its main pipes to disinfect the water. Ironically, the city’s corrective action – adding more chlorine without addressing other underlying issues – has created a new problem: high levels of total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), cancer-causing chemicals that are byproducts of water chlorination.

How Did The Flint Water Crisis Occur

One of the few bright spots in the Flint water crisis was the response of ordinary citizens, faced with the failure of city, state and federal agencies to protect them, and banding together to force the government to do its job. In the fall of 2015, soon after the release of test results that showed Flint and his children’s waters were rising lead levels, local residents joined other groups in petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initiate an immediate federal emergency. reply. The EPA hasn’t taken action that only encourages residents.

Flint Water Crisis: $626m Settlement Reached For Lead Poisoning Victims

In early 2016, a coalition of citizens and groups, including Flint resident Melissa Mays, local group Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and the Michigan ACLU, sued city and state officials for providing safe drinking water for Michigan residents. The claims of the lawsuit include proper testing and treatment of water for lead and the replacement of all lead pipes in the city. In March 2016, the coalition took additional steps to meet an urgent need and introduced a proposal to ensure that all residents, including children, the elderly, and others who cannot access the city’s free water distribution centres, have access to safe drinking water. bottled water delivery service or a robust filter installation and maintenance program.

These efforts bore fruit. In November 2016, a federal judge sided with Flint residents and ordered door-to-door distribution of bottled water to all homes without a properly installed and maintained faucet filter. A more significant victory came the following March, with a major deal that required the city to replace thousands of lead pipes with government funding and provide more funding for extensive tap water testing, the installation of a faucet filter, and a free education program. bottled water. Over the next summer and ongoing wellness programs, it will help residents cope with the lingering effects of Flint’s polluted water.

But the inhabitants and defenders of Flint are not done yet. Ensuring compliance with the provisions of the 2017 agreement is an ongoing task. In fact, litigation members went back to court to make sure the municipality was properly managing the main utility line replacement program and providing faucet filters.

Melissa Mays and other Flint residents address the media after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to review the water situation in Flint in 2016.

Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need To Know

When Governor Snyder announced in April 2018 that he would stop providing bottled water to the city’s residents, he seemed to signal that everything was clear. In fact, there is some evidence that the situation in Flint is improving, with lead levels remaining below federal action during the four six-month monitoring period from July 2016 to June 2018.

However, it’s important to note that thousands of Flint residents still get their water through lead pipes. The federal action level for lead is not a health-based number; it is simply an administrative trigger for improvement by the water company. The EPA and other health officials agree that there is no safe level of lead in water, so continued lead pipe use by thousands of Flint residents remains a cause for concern, especially in light of their cumulative lead exposure over many years.

Implemented by the city in March 2016, the FAST Start program is working to replace the thousands of lead and galvanized steel service lines that connect Flint’s water supply to homes in the city by 2020. The slow progress prompted the group of working residents to return to court to demand that Flint meet its obligations to identify and replace lead pipes and supply filters.

How Did The Flint Water Crisis Occur

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