Water crisis in Flint angers parents worried over their children’s safety and well-being

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Photo: aclumich.org

The water supply in Flint, Michigan has been contaminated with lead and other toxins since April, 2014. The problem arose after the city switched its water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the Flint River.

The corrosive water from the Flint River has caused erosion in the pipes which carry water to the homes of Flint. As a result, the lead content of the water has skyrocketed.

In Flint, between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to drinking water with lead, which can cause a series of serious health problems.

Several investigations have been commenced regarding the issue, and eight lawsuits have been filed against government officials involved. The family of a two year-old testing positive for lead poisoning has sued Michigan governor Rick Snyder.

Additionally, various Congressman and senators have proposed the allocation of grants for Flint for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder declared Flint to be in a state of emergency on January 5th, 2016 — almost eight months after the contamination was brought to attention.

“They knew how big of a problem it was, and decided not to tell the public or take action until the last minute just to protect their image and save money. That is absurd,” says SLVHS junior Jordan Beiden-Charles.

Soon after Snyder’s declaration, President Obama declared the city in a federal state of emergency, which authorizes help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Four government officials, including one from the Environmental Protection Agency, have resigned over the mishandling of the crisis, and a few members have been terminated.

Snyder has apologized to the citizens of the Michigan city and promised to fix the problem. He later sent $28 million dollars to Flint for supplies to help revive the suffering water system.

Karen Weaver, mayor of Flint, has devised an estimated fifty five million dollar plan to remove Flint’s lead contaminated pipes, which could begin in the next month.

Weaver said first priority will be given to high-risk households, like those with pregnant women and children.

“In order for Flint residents to once again have confidence and trust the water coming from their faucets, all lead pipes in the city of Flint need to be replaced,” she said.

Flint will receive technical help from Lansing mayor, Virg Bernero, and the Lansing Board of Water and Light in removing the pipes. Weaver says under optimal conditions, over 15,000 pipes could be removed in a year. The pipe-removing process has been perfected by the Lansing BWL, so the process is more efficient than ever before.

Weaver and the BWL are reaching out to the state for receiving data in order to make a more accurate and detailed timeline. Eliminating lead completely from the entire water system is quite a long-term project, and requires precise planning.

“It is good that they have a long-term plan, but a short-term plan is also needed to accommodate those at risk,” said SLVHS junior Annika Bauerle.

For short periods of time after contamination, public institutions like local schools can be provided with bottled water.

Weaver has been asked if governor Snyder will support the plan, and she says that at this point the city has waited long enough, and that they deserve new pipes.

By Robert Jeffrey

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