Water you doing Flint?


Photo courtesy of Jake May from The Flint Journal

Julian Piwowar, Contributing Writer

The city of Flint, Michigan has been declared in a federal state of emergency  as of Jan. 16 due to lead contamination in the water caused by leaching from aging pipes. The lead levels in water skyrocketed to 15 parts per billion, and approximately six to twelve thousand children developed medical complications. The water contamination also lead to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, a deadly form of pneumonia, killing ten people and affecting approximately 77 more. The crisis caused national outrage and raised questions of the government’s responsibility for the situation.

Flint switched from purchasing treated water from Lake Huron in Detroit to treating water from the Flint River on April 24, 2014 with the hope that this would save Flint about five million dollars over less than two years. By December of 2014, the city had invested four million dollars in its new water plant.  However, that April, residents of the city began to notice the water’s orange color and sewage-like odor. In January of 2015, the Detroit water system offered Flint a four million dollar connection fee, which was denied by Jerry Ambrose, the city’s emergency manager, who believed there was no apparent hazard to public health.

After many studies revealed dangerous lead levels in the water, the Flint council voted in March of 2015 to do everything necessary to return to purchasing water from Detroit. The orange coloration of the water was due to the high concentration of chloride in the Flint River’s water. This substance made it more corrosive than normal water, causing leaching of lead from aged pipes.

When President Obama declared a State of Emergency, around 80 million dollars was opened up to fund relief efforts. The State of Michigan later promised to cover the costs of Flint residents’ water bills, further water testing, replacement of fixtures in schools, support for expanded health care and in-school programs to help care for children with elevated levels of lead in their blood, as well as free water filters, bottled water and water testing kits for residents.

Junior Eric Bard questions the government’s ability to help the city.

“I think that the government is trying hard to help the city of Flint, but they do not have sufficient funds,” Bard said.

Former Flint resident Garrett Vandendries is disappointed by the government’s action surrounding the crisis.

“Sadly, the majority of my friends and family in and around Flint feel as though they have been let down by their government leaders in the years leading up to the current situation,” Vandendries said.