Water. The epitome of the term sustenance. It is not common in which the world can consider one of its greatest necessities to be a privilege. However, seeing as how the prevalence of clean water is scarce and almost nonexistent in some countries, it has become essential for the privileged to count their blessings.
Taking this into account, the same level of depravity becoming evident within the United States displayed the country’s lack of preparedness.
The people of Flint, Michigan have been jeopardized. Albeit, this news has not arisen sporadically, but rather is the result of a handful of bad decisions along with the belittling of the situation by the local government.
Early in 2014, Flint had decided to change its primary water source. The city had formerly bought their water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and had planned on building a pipeline to bring in water sourced from Lake Huron, an agreement between the city and the Karegnondi Water Authority. However, with the impending termination of the contract with Detroit in April of 2014 and construction of the KWA pipeline only to be finished in 2016, Flint resorted to its backup water source, the Flint River.
This had seemed to be the most efficient way of providing water to the city’s inhabitants during the wait for KWA water. Unfortunately, the poorly treated water has appeared to have done more damage than thought conceivable. Considering the fact that most pipelines running through the Flint River were constructed of lead midway through the 20th Century, the amount of lead that had leached into the water supply had probably caused substantial contamination. This, along with the fact that city officials attempted tirelessly to convince citizens that Flint water was safe to drink, brings the city authority’s integrity into question.
The people of Flint were not sheep to the destruction taking place, as misconceptions could suggest. Less than month after Flint’s water supply switched over, numerous complaints were filed about peculiar tastes, odors, and illnesses, all seemingly related to water consumption. As this timeline progressed, Flint water was tested positive for E. Coli along with cases of boil water.
However, this jeopardy refused to be derailed. As city officials continued to downplay the situation, samples from the river proved high in lead content, which explained the drastic increase in lead poisonings, not to mention the outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease, which can be fatal if untreated.
Slowly but surely in late 2015, the quiet progression of this emergency reached the ears of the public on a national level. Flint citizens have since received over 20,000 water filters and counting, a significant advance taking into account the city’s mostly impoverished population. This, going along with numerous lawsuits being filed against city officials, has forced the city to switch back to Detroit water temporarily, a switch costing the city $12 million. One could complain about the insane price, but is there really a price tag on survival?
Flint is currently in a state of Public Health Emergency, as sickness is still prevalent among the city’s 100,000 citizens. Countless donations have been made from all over the country, as one of Michigan’s most heavily populated cities attempts to make steps toward recovery.