DAY 1000: FLINT WITHOUT CLEAN WATER
March 7, 2017
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Since April of 2014, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan dominated headlines and news stations after the main water supply was contaminated with lead. Protests broke out over the issue after the state’s government neglected to address the issue or take an active role in improving these conditions; however, following the government’s eventual acknowledgment of the crisis, Flint faded from the media despite recently passing its thousandth day without clean water.
The crisis began when Flint changed their main water source from Lake Huron to Lake Flint. The water was not treated properly and therefore resulted in corroded pipes and a contaminated water supply. While it is hard to place the blame for this, it has been pinned on the governor, mayors, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and several other political officials. As a result of this, 13 people have been criminally charged, accused of negligence.
Despite this, after the 1000 day mark on January 19, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, claimed that he had achieved significant progress in his State of the State address because he had succeeded in replacing 600 of the contaminated water pipes. Unfortunately, this is only 3.5 percent of the necessary replacements, meaning that the progress on the issue is practically stagnant.
AP Environmental Science Teacher Mr. Kristian Cole said, “I think it’s tragic that [the United States] is one of the leaders of the world as far as economics and infrastructure, but we have areas that have lead poisoning contaminating their water. We need to update and clean up our infrastructure, especially in areas like Flint.”
Although this issue is far from resolved, the story has faded from the media after the initial upset. This can be accredited to the fact that not many people understand the daily hardships that accompany a lack of clean water.
Senior Marisa Norzagary said, “It is unimaginable to me as to how people can live without access to clean water. Especially in the United States, where we claim to be the beacon of progress, it is heartbreaking that people do not even have access to clean water and have to protest to get the government to even recognize the issue.”
Living without clean water has a direct impact on day-to-day activities many take for granted, such as bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Residents of Flint cannot wash their clothes with water properly and cooking can only be done with bottled water, which has to be collected from a stand that is only open from noon to six and usually entails incredibly long lines. Along with this, the filtered shower water, while supposed to be clean, has resulted in multiple health hazards for residents. Water used during showers seem to have the most health risks. People who regularly use the filtered water from the showers have been reported to experience fatigue, dizziness, seizures, and hair loss.
Senior Matthew Duazo said, “The Flint water crisis must come to an end. It’s ridiculous that people should be expected to fight for their fundamental right to water, but one step toward achieving a solution to this problem is ending the government negligence toward this issue by refusing to let this story lose coverage and momentum.”
Although this issue is far from over, the government of Michigan aims to make more progress toward a better future for Flint and ensure that their citizens have clean, safe water to use. Only time will tell if their plans will hold true, but for now, it is crucial that this issue is not forgotten.