How Long Has Flint Been Without Clean Water – The city of Flint is still reeling from contamination of its water supply that exposed thousands of residents to lead-tainted water, putting Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in the political hot seat and prompting an emergency declaration from President Obama.
So how did a city of 100,000 lose access to something as basic as clean drinking water? First, you need to understand how Flint got its water before the crisis.
How Long Has Flint Been Without Clean Water
For nearly half a century, Flint bought water from Detroit, which properly treated the water with orthophosphate, a chemical that essentially coats the pipes as they flow, preventing lead from entering the water supply. Here’s what the process looked like back then.
Million Settlement To Be Announced For Flint, Mich., Water Crisis
Flint switched from Detroit’s water supply to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. But the city didn’t use corrosion control to keep lead from leaching into the water. The river itself was found to have eight times more chloride than Detroit water, a chemical highly corrosive to metals. Most Flint residents have decades-old lead service lines connecting their homes to the city’s main water pipes. When river water flowed through these pipes, it washed over their insides, allowing lead to enter the supply. Here’s what it looked like after the switch – red is used to indicate lead, a colorless substance.
Once Flint changed its water supply, most Flint residents knew right away. Residents described the water from their taps as brown-yellow and both smelled and tasted strange.
It was later discovered that the water contained large amounts of lead, which could be particularly harmful to small children. In October 2015, the city switched back to Detroit’s water supply, but Flint’s water is still considered unsafe to drink.
This image provided by FlintWaterStudy.org is from Flint, Mich. shows the water samples in the house. The bottles were collected on January 15 (2), January 16 and January 21, 2015 from left. While every effort is made to follow reference style rules, there may be some inconsistencies. If you have any questions, please see to the appropriate style manual or other sources.
What Can Civil Engineers Do To Prevent Another Flint Water Crisis Elsewhere?
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Flint water crisis, a human public health crisis (April 2014–June 2016) involving the municipal water supply system of Flint, Michigan. Thousands of Flint residents were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, and an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease killed at least 12 people and sickened dozens more.
Although it was once a thriving industrial center, the southeastern Michigan city of Flint struggled economically in the 1980s and ’90s after General Motors closed several of its auto manufacturing plants. In 2002, Michigan Governor John Engler declared a financial emergency in the city, and for the next two years, executive authority in Flint was exercised by a manager selected by Engler. However, the city’s financial difficulties persisted, and in 2011 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed the first of a series of unelected emergency managers to run the city. Those managers who reported directly to the Michigan State Treasury Department and not to the citizens of Flint, decided to switch the city’s water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure. This change was made in April 2014, and residents immediately raised concerns about water quality.
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Flint Residents And The Struggle For Clean Water
In the following months, residents were advised to double boil their water due to the presence of dangerous levels of bacteria, and General Motors announced that the Flint River water used in its plants was causing rust on newly machined engine parts. Rising cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint have prompted Genesee County health officials to question whether the outbreak may be linked to contamination of the water supply, but efforts to investigate the matter have been met with resistance at the city and state levels. In January 2015, the city informed residents that high levels of carcinogenic trihalomethanes had been detected in Flint’s water, but insisted it was safe to drink. Later in the month, two water fountains on the University of Michigan-Flint campus were found to contain dangerous levels of lead. DWSD offered to reconnect Flint to its system, but Flint’s emergency manager declined, and communications from the Snyder administration revealed that cost remained the primary decision driver as public health concerns grew.
A March 2015 test of drinking water in a Flint home found lead concentrations 25 times higher than levels considered actionable by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Later tests found lead levels that exceeded EPA criteria for classifying the water as hazardous waste. U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that there is no “safe” level for lead exposure and that the effects of lead poisoning are lifelong and often debilitating. Flint’s elected city council voted almost entirely symbolically to return the city to DWSD as its water supplier, but the emergency manager dismissed the measure as “unaffordable.” In early April 2015, EPA Regional Manager Miguel Del Toral expressed concern about the lack of any corrosion control measures in Flint’s water treatment process, but Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) insisted that no additional steps were necessary levels to reduce. Lead and copper in flint water.
In September 2015, Mark Edwards, a professor of environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and an expert on municipal water systems, found that insufficient corrosiveness of the Flint River water was causing the leaching of aging pipes, and doctors at Flint Hospital told residents told to drink city water after area children’s blood tests show high levels of lead. After these results were confirmed, Genesee County declared a public health emergency in Flint on Oct. 1, urging residents not to drink water from the Flint River, but the next day, Snyder’s office issued a press release that claims that Flint’s water is safe to drink. Lead pipes in household plumbing lead to elevated lead levels. However, within a week, Snyder announced a $12 million plan to reinstate DWSD as Flint’s water supplier. Experts note that such a move would do nothing to repair the damage already done to Flint’s water supply infrastructure after more than 18 months of exposure to corrosive water. Even after DWSD’s water supply was reconnected on Oct. 16, officials advised Flint not to drink the water. In late October, Snyder announced the creation of an independent task force to review the events leading up to the crisis.
In December 2015, Flint’s newly elected mayor declared a state of emergency, and Snyder’s task force released its first report, which placed the main blame for the public health disaster in Flint on the MDEQ. Snyder declared a state of emergency for Genesee County in January 2016 and activated the National Guard to help with water distribution. On January 16, the U.S. Pres. Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, immediately releasing $5 million in federal funds to aid relief efforts and authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate state and local responses. U.S. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a series of hearings in February to investigate the debacle in Flint. The conclusions drawn from these hearings fell mainly along political lines: House Democrats found fault with Snyder – a Republican – and House Republicans criticized the EPA for failing to intervene in a timely manner.
Does Flint Have Clean Water? Yes, But It’s Complicated
The question of guilt appeared to be settled decisively in March 2016, however, when Snyder’s nonpartisan task force issued its scathing final report. Primary responsibility for the crisis in Flint was placed on the state, and especially MDEQ, and members of the task force called for a thorough review of the emergency management system. The report described the crisis as a clear example of environmental injustice because Flint’s poor, largely African-American population “does not enjoy the same level of protection from environmental and health threats that other communities afford.” The CDC found that nearly 100,000 residents of Flint were contaminated with lead from April 2014 to October 2015. Scientists have finally linked the 2014 deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Genesee County to Flint water. levels in the municipal water supply., which leads to
The Michigan Attorney General brought criminal charges against two MDEQ employees and the Flint City Utilities Administrator in April 2016 and promised that additional cases would be brought over time. in June
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