No, Flint Doesn’t Have Safe Water Yet

Just because we’re not hearing Flint, Michigan mentioned in the news anymore doesn’t mean the situation has been rectified. Four years later, Flint still doesn’t have clean water. Nevertheless, last month Governor Rick Snyder decided to stop providing free bottled water to residents.

To be fair, the water situation has improved a lot. Testing over an extended period of time shows that the lead present in the water is well below what is considered the legal limit in over 90 percent of samples.

However, that rate isn’t nearly reassuring enough to a community that’s seen a dozen people die from the effects of tainted water. Just this February, 28 separate samples conducted at the city’s elementary schools measured the lead level at above the legal limit. Is that what you’d want your kids drinking?

Besides, why should anyone in Flint trust these assurances anyway? Government officials have insisted the water was perfectly safe at points in the past when it subsequently was proved that it was definitely not. Many of these government officials are the same people making the current assertions – how they’ve maintained their jobs even after facing criminal charges is anyone’s guess.

As the ACLU points out, even if Flint were passing all the marks set by the federal lead standards, that’d hardly be sufficient relief because the existing standards are “dangerously outdated.” We now know that it takes less lead than what the standards consider safe to pose significant physical and mental health risks for young children, the elderly and pregnant women. These are all people who need to be able to drink tap water, too.

Though the government is making an effort to swap out the old lead pipes with the “FAST Start Program,” FAST is a bit of a misnomer since the job is still a couple years from completion. Presently, there are still about 12,000 lead pipelines still in use. Residents have some reasonable concerns that as these pipes are finally changed, it will once again send lead flakes back into the water.

Since the state has been shelling out over $600,000 on bottled water every month, it’s understandable why Michigan doesn’t want to drag on this service indefinitely. At the same time, with people’s health at stake, it’s an expense that the government ought to believe it owes to the people of Flint until the pipes are replaced entirely.

Nearly half of all Flint residents (45 percent) live below the poverty line, so it’s not as if this population can simply buy their own bottled water, especially while still being on the hook for paying their regular water bill. Perhaps it’s that rate of poverty that left the state and federal government indifferent to fixing the problem for Flint’s residents; in a capitalist society, these people just don’t matter.

Remember, the government knew and concealed the water problem from the very people using the water for at least a year before the news went public. If officials cared about Flint residents’ wellbeing, it would have been addressed way sooner. Efforts to fix the lead problem were addressed when Flint became a national scandal, but now that the news cycle has moved on, the pressure to prioritize health is gone.

Americans who look at what happened in Michigan as “Flint’s problem” are ignoring how easily this could happen to them. One of the richest nations in the world took a slow, fairly ineffective approach to addressing a known and serious health risk. Shame on this country for creating a situation where residents still can’t trust the water they now have to drink.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

43 comments

Sue H
Sue Habout a month ago

Dismal Failure by "government" officials. Disrespecting the well being of constituents ought to be a criminal act.

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Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Jen S
Jen S9 months ago

This is beyond excuse in that the issues with the water occurred because an
incompetent federally appointed manager caused it by changing the water supply and then lied about it repeatedly. An entire generation of young children were exposed to very high levels of lead while the government talked about doing something. Talking does not help and an entire comprehensive retrofit is necessary as is continued testing. Save the people of Flint now.

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DAVID f
Past Member 10 months ago

Tfs

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Hannah K
Past Member 10 months ago

Thanks for this

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Dot A
Dot A10 months ago

Can’t be tolerated, that goes without question. As the article mentions, if this is let go as is, such lackadaisical controls will happen throughout the nation, and world. Of course the 1% will have alternate resources, so those who profit from the collateral damage just wait it out, and see if the responsible people in society will fix the problem. Otherwise, there’s profits to be made from all the problems people will suffer from toxic H2O. Everybody knows it, and the economically deficient are always the most vulnerable, while the economically privileged just party on and don’t notice how difficult life is for most of our population. Unconscionable to let this happen without rushing to find an adequate fix, ASAP!

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Henry M
Henry M10 months ago

Terrible. And this is just due to failures from government and bad infrastructure, not drought or anything.

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DAVID fleming
Past Member 10 months ago

Some people walk for 10 hours a day for water .

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Winn A
Winn Adams10 months ago

This is America. How hard should this be?????????????????????

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Lisa M
Lisa M10 months ago

Noted.

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