In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan made a huge mistake. In an effort to save money during a construction project, the city switched its water source from the Detroit River to the Flint River. The pipes that ran from the River to Flint were coated with lead, and the water hadn’t been treated properly. When the water passed through the pipes, the lead filtered into Flint residents’ water. The issue became a crisis for the city’s residents. Outbreaks of Legionnare’s disease, lead and fecal coliform contamination, excess levels of TTHM (which causes issues to the liver and central nervous systems), all were a result of this switch. Even though the city switched back to the Detroit River in 2015, some effect were nearly irreversable. With high levels of lead and nearly no government help, citizens in Flint had been relying on water bottles provided by Michigan's free water bottle program. But in 2018, Governor Snyder declared Flint’s water “safe to drink,” thusly ending the free water bottle program. Citizens still need access to clean water, and they're relying on other non-government funded means to get it. Some Flintians are still forced to continue to use water bottles for everything; drinking, bathing, cooking...5 years later.
Why does this matter now?
The Flint water crisis is an extremely unfortunate series of events, but let’s be frank; the issue would have been solved much earlier if the community was wealthier, higher up on the socio-economic ladder, or not a majority-minority area. The fact that Flint residents cannot drink water from their sinks 5 years after this mishap occurred is shameful. The Flint water crisis is a prime example of environmental racism. It is also an example of government mismanagement and the lack of accountability; there have been many lawsuits filed against the city of Flint, the state of Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder, Flint officials, and many others for their mishandling of the crisis. In 2018, Governor Snyder ended the free water bottle program in Flint and insisted the water was drinkable. Flint residents didn’t buy it. People like Mari Copeny have been working relentlessly to obtain and deliver free, clean water to her fellow Flint residents, but we need sustainable solutions for Flint families to end the crisis once and for all.