You’ve no doubt heard about the terrible events going on in Flint, Michigan for the last three years. If not, the basic overview is that the city of Flint was exposed to very high levels of lead in their water when their drinking water source was switched from the safe water treatment plant in Detroit to the Flint River. The problem with the Flint river is that it is notorious for being dirty and tainted. It’s often a dumping ground for cars, chemicals and even bodies, making it generally unsafe for consumption. After the appropriate safety measures were not taken by the local government, high levels of lead began leaching into the water supply, likely because of the old pipes that made up the system. This caused thousands of residents to become very ill, including many children who are particularly susceptible to the dangers of a tainted water supply.
After repeated water testing, it was found that the contaminated water was found in at least 40% of homes in Flint and the lead rate in children’s blood was all the way up to 5%. There were also numerous outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease, which was also attributed to the contaminated water supply. The people of Flint, in order to stay safe from the contaminated water, were forced to used bottled water to drink, cook and even to bathe. Many were demanding free water testing on an ongoing basis because they wanted to be kept abreast of the condition of their water.
Today, three years after the initial switch of the drinking water source from the plant to the Flint River, the people of Flint are still suffering with contaminated water. They continue to use bottled water for daily tasks–it has become a reality of everyday life, something that human beings shouldn’t have to deal with.
Former President Barack Obama declared it a federal state of emergency and urged lawmakers and local governments to examine the situation. Numerous lawsuits, many against government officials, were filed and are still backlogged in the courts today. With continuing bad news, the City of Flint, which had been giving out bottled water to residents, is considering ending that program. If that were to happen, a large chunk of a resident’s paycheck would potentially go to purchasing the water they needed to live and do daily activities like bathe, eat, stay hydrated, wash dishes, clothes and more.
One of the reasons that lead levels were able to be determined was because of the microbiological testing that was done to the water. With continued testing, scientists will be able to monitor the water so they can assess what tactics are working or not working to treat the water. Science is an important piece of the puzzle if the local Flint government wants to ensure the water is once again safe for its residents. The residents have been dealing with contaminated water for far too long and want to know immediately when it becomes safe enough for them to use so they can continue living their lives normally.