Flint Water Crisis

The issue of the Flint Water Crisis shouldn’t really be new to many people, seeing as it’s been a big topic in the media.  But for those unaware of what happened in Flint recently, I’ll give a summary.  Basically, back in 2013 Flint, Michigan wanted to switch its source for water in order to save money.  They were getting their water from Lake Huron, which was fresh but costed more money.  They had a plan to switch to depend on a new water district, but there was no pipeline to deliver the water.  So they turned to the Flint River, which contained industrial waste, sewage, and farm runoff, as their source of water for the city.

The Flint River is extremely difficult to sanitize and it was basically impossible to make the water safe and drinkable.  But that didn’t stop the state officials from telling the city that the water was safe to drink.  Almost immediately after the switch, there were plenty of reports about the water making them sick and it being discolored.  When tests were done on the water in the city, results showed that the water being consumed was at levels considered to be hazardous waste.  Take that in.  The citizens of this city are being told by their government officials that this water is is safe to drink and that there shouldn’t be any concern about it while the matter of the fact is that it lead levels consistent with hazardous waste.

The state didn’t make any changes until October of 2015.  Yes, that is correct.  Although reports started coming in immediately about the water not being safe to drink, no changes were made until more than a year later.  And even though Flint has made the switch back to getting water from Lake Huron, there are still dangerously high amounts of lead still in the water.  The high levels of lead in the water cause permanently impaired cognitive function, shorten attention span, and develop more antisocial behavior in children, especially because their brains are still developing.  It’s estimated that about 9,000 children have been affected by this lead poisoning and there is no treatment to reverse it.

Flint is an extremely poor city in Michigan, with a high population of African Americans.  Could this be a reason why government officials took so long to make changes to fix the poisoned water?  Or maybe why they switched the water supply in the first place?  It’s obvious that the safety and health of the citizens in Flint were not a top priority for the those in charge of making these decisions.  There could have been preemptive measures taken to make sure that the water would be safe for people to drink, but the focus was on saving money not caring about the wellbeing of the city.

Currently, there are three officials who were a part of this water crisis that are being charged.  An article by NBC News stated, “The man who ran the city treatment plant and two state environmental officials were hit with felony charges Wednesday for allegedly misleading regulators about the poisoned water supply — and prosecutors promised more charges are coming.”  So finally, the people in charge of this terrible water crisis are facing punishments for what they did.  Obviously there were a lot more people involved in making this crisis happen who haven’t faced any charges yet, like Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.  But will the punishments of those who caused this crisis really make that much of a difference?  Yes they definitely deserve to serve time for what they did, but for all of the people who were effected and became sick (and still are being effected) by the careless decisions of their leaders, the damage has already been done.  This crisis will continue to effect the city of Flint for decades to come.

What are your thoughts on the Flint Water Crisis?  Who do you think is to blame?  What do you think could have been done differently?  What do you have to say about what happened in Flint?





Author: SK

Wheaton College '19

One thought on “Flint Water Crisis”

  1. I like that you chose to talk about this, because I don’t think a lot of people actually understand the devastation that it has caused. The situation reminds me of the film “Erin Brokovich,” which is based on a true story about a water crisis in California that effected tons of families, in which they became incredibly sick. I find it disgusting “official people” such as Rick Snyder would rather risk the lives of thousands of people rather than spend a few extra bucks. The victims of this tragedy will probably have to live with the damage of what the water crisis did for the rest of their lives, especially the children effected. It makes me wonder, did the local government actually know the damage it would do? Because it is hard for me to imagine anyone is that selfless that they thought they could get away with using the Flint River as the main source of water for a large population of people.


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