BY RILEY FANNING
The people in Flint, Michigan have been drinking contaminated water for years.
A substantial portion of these people are young children, thousands of whom will now have permanent brain damage due to long term exposure to lead. It is practically unfathomable that something like this could happen in a modern, developed country such as America, and yet here we are.
A hugely disturbing detail of this crisis is that it was avoidable, but due to a lax government and cutting corners, the Flint community has been badly hurt.
The issue of how the water became so toxic started with the desire to save money. The areas original source of water was the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, but a plan was enacted to switch the source to the polluted Flint River.
The switch was thought to save the impoverished community $5 million, but now city will be spending millions to clean up this mess they created.
Immediately after the switch was made, residents of Flint began noticing their water smelling and tasting different, sometimes even coming out of the faucet brown.
What made the difference was the hugely elevated presence of iron in the new river’s water, and Flint officials failed to properly treat the water so that it would be safe for consumption. As the untreated corrosive water traveled through lead pipes on its way to the homes in Flint, it absorbed high amounts of lead that also got mixed into the water supply.
This issue started in 2014 but is only just now being addressed. In all that time, people have been drinking poisoned water. Lead is especially dangerous to children, causing brain damage, lower intelligence quotients and affecting their social skills.
The contaminated water these people have been drinking is not a freak of nature, but a clear mistake of man. A mistake of epic proportions, and it can not be fixed. A Federal State of Emergency has been declared, and in the mean time Flint residents have to rely on boiling their water, or using bottled water until the crisis can be sorted out.
The water will hopefully get clean soon, but the lead levels have surpassed the filtering measures put in place so far. Even if the water is eventually safe to drink, the innocent children living in Flint will forever be intrinsically linked to this senseless government oversight for the rest of their lives. They are the ones who are going to be affected, and they are the true victims.
Several lawsuits have been filed against Flint officials, who exhibited negligence when they blatantly failed to follow the Safe Drinking Water Act which states that water has to be treated and tested for contaminants. The well-being of every single American is jeopardized when government officials believe they can decide which laws they feel like following that day.
Even with the ongoing lawsuits, no monetary reparations can even begin to repair the years of damage the lead build up has caused. This situation is not only concerning, but it is a wake up call to all Americans.
The government is unceasingly fallible, and the promise of basic life necessities like clean drinking water is now uncertain.