Addressing the Flint Water Crisis

Today's post is authored by MedEq's editor, Mohammed Turfe.

Flint, Michigan serves as the largest City in Genesee County and the seventh largest city in the State of Michigan. It has a bad rep for being categorized amongst, “The Most Dangerous Cities in America” with a per capita crime rate that is seven times higher than the national average. What may be hidden about Flint, is that it is famous for the Flint Sit-Down Strike in 1936 which lead to the formation of the UAW. Moreover, it is home to the “Flintstones” who comprised the 2000 Michigan State Men’s Basketball team that won the National Championship.

In recent news however, Flint is the most talked about city in the nation due to lead outbreaks in the City’s water supply rendering it hazardous. Families are left without access to the most vital and basic resource to any human being, clean water. 8,657 Flint children have consumed this contaminated water since April of 2014 which is in the 90th percentaile in terms of lead exposure.

Along with the tremendous outrage that resulted from this crisis, a helping hand that spreads across the nation came to Flint’s rescue. Millions of water bottles, thousands of water filters, tons of volunteers, all congregating in Flint, MI to help out those of need. People from all races, ethnicities, cultures, and even ex-cons are donating towards this cause. The power of a collective effort on a national level is one to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, these treasured resources are not enough to quell the outrage and heal those contaminated by the poisonous water. When consumed by children, water with this magnitude of lead can deformities in brain development that are irreversible and can ultimately lead to a lower IQ. The ubiquity of the tainted water supply is so severe that a state of emergency in Flint has been declared at the local, state, and national level. In fact, Governor Snyder is currently asking congress for $28 million to resolve the water crisis and improve health care plans.

How did such a crisis occur and who is to blame for this? While the City of Flint was under the management of an Emergency City Manager, a decision was made to switch the City’s water supply from the Detroit River to the local Flint River. This alteration was made as a method to save the city money during a financial crisis. When the change was made however, the State Department of Environmental Quality has openly stated that the necessary chemicals were not added to the corrosive drinking water. As a result, dangerous amounts of lead leached through the pipes and into Flint’s water supply.

What this tragic episode in Flint history delineates is that cities are willing to do almost anything to save a city money, disregarding of the potential consequences. Public animosity has been directed towards Governor Rick Snyder for primarily allowing such a travesty to occur and, until recently, downplaying the seriousness of this issue. Happily so, he finally came around.

From a MedEq perspective, this crisis propagates health disparities to a city wide level. Due to a financial crisis, the residents of Flint are being deprived of a basic human necessity which is a constitutional crime and a moral crime. In response to this tragedy, MedEq will plan a drive to collect resources such as water filters or cases of water to assist those affected by the water crisis.

The Environmental Project Group will be holding a meeting this upcoming Tuesday at 3:00 in the Student Center to plan out this initiative along with other plans for the coming semester. Please come out to show your support. If you are unable to make it, you can contact me, Mohammed Turfe, at fp1048@wayne.edu to propose ideas or make a donation.

References:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/01/19/michigan-flint-water-contamination/78996052/

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/us/flint-michigan-lead-water-crisis.html

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