Insufficient water sources cause issues for Flint

Carl Huntere, 48, of Flint, Mich., walks home through the snow from the North End Soap Kitchen in Flint on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, where he received a case of free bottled water.
Photo Credit: MCT Campus

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Carl Huntere, 48, of Flint, Mich., walks home through the snow from the North End Soap Kitchen in Flint on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, where he received a case of free bottled water. Photo Credit: MCT Campus

Jahnae Runnells, Staff Writer

In the last couple of months, there have been major talks on the crisis in Flint, Michigan. How the water is far from clear; just as contaminated as it looks. It’s unfortunate, it’s sad, but what is really going on? Let’s take a walk through the facts.

For starters, according to the Unites States Census Bureau, Michigan is the second most poverty stricken city in the United States. It also shows that 40.1% of Flint natives live in poverty based circumstances. This statistic supports the fact that the city’s funds are scarce.

In efforts to save money, Gov. Rick Snyder and his emergency managers decided to halt their purchases from Detroit and pull their water from the Flint River. Let’s break it down. Flint payed Detroit $1.5 million per month for the treated Lake Huron water. But the city doesn’t have $1.5 million to spare each month. Someone on Snyder’s team came up with the brilliant idea to pull water from Flint River and filter it themselves. Because, after all, that water is basically free. This would save the city $1 million a year.

The Flint River is industrial, farming, and sewage wastewater with high levels of chloride. So high, there’s no effective way to fully sanitize the water. To make matters worse, the half treated water was being ran through old pipes. Can it get any more defective? The answer is yes.

A lot of houses in Flint, Michigan were made in the mid-1980s or before. Back then, the copper pipes were fused with lead solder. So there’s half treated water, running through aging lead infested pipes… Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

 This may seem like a relatively new issue, however the residents of Flint have been dealing with this for eighteen months. When Snyder and his team decided to switch the water supply in April of 2014, there was immediate residential complaints of the water being discolored with an odor and a distasteful flavor.

In mid-2015, an internal memo was leaked regarding an unsafe level of lead in a woman’s home. Shortly after, Brad Wurfel, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) stated, “Let me start here – anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax… It does not look like there is any broad problem with the water supply freeing up lead as it goes to homes.”

This allowed natives to feel a tad bit at ease. But, the water was still discolored and still distasteful. With a few more tests, it turns out that there was a major problem.

The Environmental Protection Agency limits 15 parts per billion (ppb) with the concentration of toxin in water. Anything above 5,000 ppb is considered “hazardous waste”. The Virginia Tech research team found lead contamination as high as 13,200 ppb.

When looked at, the kids of Flint, Michigan have been drinking this water for eighteen months. Over 9,000 children in Flint had high levels of lead in their system. The World Health Organization stated that toxic levels of lead can affect “the central and peripheral nervous system and the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, immune and hematological systems” as well as “reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), short attention span, and increased antisocial behavior.”

So who’s to blame? It could be Snyder’s fault, one of the four Emergency Managers appointed to Flint in six years, or simply the system of politics. Either way, it’s clear that the well-being of these children were not priority.

Luckily, many celebrities such as Big Sean, Jimmy Fallon, Sandra Bernhard, Michael Moore, and many others have donated thousands of dollars as well as thousands of bottled waters to the residents of Flint Michigan for the time being.

Even after Snyder switched the water supply back to Detroit, a State of Emergency had been called. Thankfully, the White House will provide water, filters, cartridges, and test kits to the residents of Flint until this situation is resolved.

No matter how low funds are, basic necessities should never be compromised.