One Year Later, Flint Is Still Without Clean Water

Last December, the mayor of Flint, Mich., declared a state of emergency due to widespread lead contamination in the city’s drinking water. The story spread like wildfire, sparking national outrage – but, sadly, one year on, very little has changed.

While the levels of lead in the water have significantly improved, the unfiltered water is still unsafe to drink. Many residents are still refusing to drink the tap water, even after it’s passed through a filter. It’s hard to blame them for mistrusting the city’s reassurances about the effectiveness of the filters it’s provided them – after officials attempted to cover up the extent of the contamination, trust has been permanently broken within the community.

While the filters remove most of the contamination from the water, federal health officials also consider no level of lead in the bloodstream to technically be “safe” (particularly in children), which makes matters confusing for those affected. It’s easy to understand why many are insisting the water needs to be completely lead-free before they’ll trust it again.

Compounding the problem is the fact that most of the city’s lead pipes are still in place, actively leaching the toxic metal into the water supply. There are an estimated 30,000 pipes connecting people’s homes to the water main, and so far only 600 of those – 2 percent – have actually been replaced.

For those who don’t have a filter, or who don’t trust them to make the water safe, daily tasks like showering or washing dishes are a struggle. Supporters once donated millions of gallons of donated water, but aid has now slowed to a trickle, with the state of Michigan dragging its heels despite a court order demanding officials deliver bottled water to affected homes. Instead, residents must make the trip to a distribution center and haul the water they need back home.

Activists are questioning the official reports that water quality is gradually improving, and there’s reason for them to be suspicious. The current data is only testing a small number of “high risk” homes. While scientists may be able to extrapolate that data to determine the health of the water supply as a whole, individual residents can hardly be blamed for being wary when their own homes haven’t actually been tested.

There is some promising news on the horizon, however: this week, Congress finally approved a $170 million measure to help Flint replace all of the city’s pipes. Though millions more may be necessary by the time the project nears completion, it’s enough to start the process. However, the effort is likely to continue to take years, so in the meantime, residents will have to continue to use filters or make the trek to pick up bottled water several times a week.

At least there’s a plan for action in Flint now, however long it might take to implement it. The same can’t be said for 33 other cities across the U.S. that may be improperly testing tap water in order to pass FDA inspections. To find out if you’re at risk, you can learn more here.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago

Thank you.

Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

George L
George L2 years ago

thanks for posting!

Leong S
Leong S2 years ago

thanks again.

Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C2 years ago

Thank you for posting!

Jennifer H
Jennifer H2 years ago

Agree with Lorraine Anderson. This is ridiculous. What is taking so long to help those residents?

Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Darlene Buckingham

We need more water protectors than ever before.

William C
William C2 years ago


Patricia Harris
Patricia Harris2 years ago

Lorraine Andersen, let's not wait for that to happen!!