Toxic Water in Flint, Michigan

Anna Vander Kooi, Staff Reporter

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For the people of Flint, Michigan, water is more important than it has ever been. That’s because since April of 2014, they haven’t had the luxury of clean water that so many of us take for granted. When their water supply started turning brown, and tasting different than it had before, residents of the town starting asking questions.

The answer behind the change in their drinking water was scarier and more dangerous than any could’ve hoped. The mixture of iron and lead found in the water had caused corrosion and was the reason for the change in the water’s color. Because of their poor economic situation, the town decided to switch from using Lake Huron water for their homes to the use of water from their local river, the Flint River, in order to save money. However, the fact that the water of the Flint River is nineteen times more corrosive than the water of Lake Huron seemed to be ignored. The water contained dangerous amounts of lead, which was damaging to the mental and physical health of town residents. Lead is known to cause hair loss, vision problems, brain damage, and extreme behavioral changes. It is especially damaging to the developing brains of children.

Worst of all, is that the effects of this crisis could have been easily prevented. The water was never treated with anti-corrosive agent to cleanse it, a violation of federal health laws. The problem had been addressed by townspeople as far back as 2011, yet the government did little about it. This lack of care has put many leaders of the area under fire. The mayor of Flint, Dayne Walling, lost a reelection amidst the turmoil. In addition, the state Director of Environmental Quality stepped down. The governor of Michigan, who has been subject to much criticism, has declared the tainted water to be a state of emergency, however it is all too late. Damage has already been done to the town residents and citizens are already angered, including one family who has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Quality.

While the town of Flint has reverted back to using Lake Huron water, the actions made years ago are becoming a large topic of discussion and a point of anger for many. Because of the high levels of lead in the water, children will have a more difficult time understanding easy concepts in school. More people in the town will suffer with depression, an effect of extreme lead poisoning, and overall, more money will need to go towards mental health services for both the children and adults of the town. While trying to save money, town and state officials created a distrust for leaders that residents of Flint, Michigan, will have for years to come.

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