America’s Water Crisis


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Flint, Michigan, Still doesn’t have clean water. Since 2014, their water has been contaminated by lead, a poisonous metallic element. Strikes, rallies, and news reports on this issue have been happening for five years. It’s been five years that the people of Flint haven’t had clean water. How and why on earth hasn’t this changed?

In 2014 when the crisis first began, governor, (at the time) Rick Snyder knew about the dangers of the new pipeline. Dennis Muchmore, Snyder’s chief in staff expressed to him the threat that the new pipeline would have on Flint before making decisions, according to CBS. His staff urged him against the new pipeline, but Snyder decided to continue with it anyway. What he wanted was a cheaper way for the town to get it’s water. To save some money for the state, he proposed that a new pipeline be built so that Flint would get their water from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron.

In reality, the switch mostly benefited investors, campaign investors, and major banks such as Wells Fargo, according to the documentary Fahrenheit 11/9. This also benefited Snyder as he is the chief executive operator of Gateway Incorporated, a major computer company. Meanwhile in Flint, havocc was breaking loose.

Right before the switch happened in the pipelines, government officials assured residents that they wouldn’t notice a difference in the water. This was far from the truth. Once construction was complete, the water turned into an orange-yellow color. After having to use this water, people became sick and some eventually had to be hospitalized. Some resident’s hair fell out, many got skin rashes, and thousands of kids got sick. After tests were run, it was found that there were high levels of lead in the water. Legionnaires disease is now extremely common in Flint. Officially twelve people have died from it, but according to the Public Broadcasting Station, studies are showing that there may have actually been many more deaths due to this disease. People complained, protested and were outright angry about this switch for months. When Snyder was addressed with the issue by the people, he told them not to drink the water. This is the same water people wash their dishes and take showers with.

Once lead has been ingested, there’s no going back. The effects are permanent and irreversible. Lead drops IQ levels, creates impulse disorder, memory issues, aggressiveness, and impacts DNA. Mothers who ingest lead pass it down through their kids. It can even be seen in their grandchildren. There’s no safe levels of lead in the human body. Knowing this makes the fact that every single child in Flint has ingested the water makes it so much worse.

In October of 2014, the water was switched back to Lake Huron, but only for the General Motors (GM) plant that is in Flint. The parts in the factory were corroding, which was clearly bad for business. After hearing about this, Snyder was outraged and immediately switched the water back to Lake Huron but just for the factory. It must be noted that GM has donated thousands of dollars to the Republican Governors Association. Even though people were getting sick from the water, they still had to get their water from the contaminated Flint river.  

April Cook-Hawkins, a woman who worked for the Flint Health Department, was asked to participate in the cover up of the lead poisoning. She was the case manager of Flint. In regards to results of blood levels, her job was to input the numbers and make sure all the numbers were safe. Her supervisor asked if she would alter numbers. If someone came in and tested high in lead, she wasn’t to show that. Secretly, Cook-Hawkins made copies of the correct records as evidence. Anything above three point five is considered a high level and most of the cases in Flint are anywhere from five to ten. She was told that she “can’t retest, just put it in as three point five.” When Cook-Hawkins refused, she was fired from her job. This means someone from higher up hold someone to tell her supervisor to cover up the lead poisoning, according to the interview with her in Fahrenheit 11/9.

Some might ask, “If things are so bad there, why don’t they just move?” The thing is, the residents of Flint are stuck there. According to the National Public Radio, over 40 percent of the city is impoverished. When someone looks at pictures of Flint, it doesn’t look like America. It looks like a poor, third world country. On top of this, the water is contaminated. No one wants to buy a house in Flint. This means that people can’t sell their houses and leave. They really are stuck there.

As of today, the people of Flint, Michigan still don’t have clean water. “Kids think brushing their teeth with a water bottle is normal,” said by frustrated Lorenzo Avery Jr. Only recently has the government started to try to fix the problem. Out of the 18,300 waterlines, only about 7,000 of them have been replaced. According to The Detroit Times, Flint might have clean water by the end of 2019.

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