The Flint Water Crisis

A short description

The Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis

You may think that the places in the world with water crises would be third world countries with desert climates where proper infrastructure is simply not in place, and for the most part you would be right. Of course, in the west we think of water as only something that comes out of a tap at our leisure, we haven’t had to worry about it for a very long time. Cut to 2014 however and you will find that a country with one of the most powerful economies and most modernised capabilities is actually the home of a disaster related to water  – this country is The United States Of America.

The Switch

In Flint, Michigan a seemingly simple political move was made that caused nothing but woe for the residents here. In order to save money, the governor at the time Rick Snyder cut a deal with the local water company and decided that instead of using the tried and tested Lake Huron as a source for the states water they would instead take it from the Detroit river. As a little button was pushed down in the water plant water to thousands of homes started pouring with trouble.

Poor Treatment

Poor Treatment

Poor Treatment

The problem that began almost immedietly here was that in order to send water to the homes of the public, the water has to be treated. This means not only are particular chemicals mixed in to prevent bacteria from reaching those who use it but also a specific mix of minerals is added that sustain the lining of the pipes it travels through. The water facility in Flint failed to do this. What resulted was an outbreak of unclean water, not just dirty and brown but full of lead and filled with fatal bacteria.

The Victims

Flint residents quickly responded with letters and phone calls to the water company and the government but to no avail, for a very long time the officials at Snyder’s office denied there being any problems with the water. It was clear that there was something wrong with the water early on, as the General Motors plant noted corrosion on their vehicles and was allowed to switch back to the Lake Huron water, for the lower class families in the area however, they would be remain on the harmful water until today.

People who continued to use this deadly liquid saw all manner of symptoms including rashes, hair loss and sickness but things got worse. Also lurking in the water was legionella bacteria which causes legionnaires disease, meaning that some people who fell sick never recovered, marking 12 recorded deaths. What was more widespread was the exposure to lead which reached an estimated 12,000 children. There is no cure for lead poisoning, lead collects in the brain and can cause severe problems many of which these children will experience in later life.

The Outcome

The Outcome

The Outcome

What has resulted after multiple campaigns, protests and home science kits is that the bad water has actually been acknowledged and the corroded pipes are slowly being replaced. The real issues faced by those exposed is yet to be seen however as an entire generation grows up with a heavy metal in their systems. Unlike those poorer countries, the issue the US faces is a political one where money outweighs the lives of everyday people, if only the solution was as simple as building a well.