January Post – Michigan Under State of Emergency

By Joana Haxhiu

Flint_River_in_Flint_MIchigan

Michigan Under State of Emergency

In today society we have become accustomed to having access to clean tap water from the comfort of our homes. Unfortunately, that is not the case for residents of Flint, Michigan. In the 1980’s, Flint was home to many automobile factories such as General Motors.[1]  While factories were based there, the city prospered, but in the 1990’s many of them began closing their doors.[2] As many plants were closing, residents began leaving the town, thus, the population decreased, and violent crimes increased.[3]  It quickly became one of the most dangerous cities in America.[4]  Then in 2011, Flint was declared to be in a financial state of emergency that forced the state to take budgetary control.[5]

Contamination of the water supply began a few years ago when Flint’s state officials decided to switch Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to Flint River.[6]  Flint River is a well-known river that is known for its Filth.[7] The switch was intended to be temporary; in the mean time the state was suppose to run a new supply line to Lake Huron within a 2 year period. [8]   Soon after the switch residents started seeing a difference in their tap water.[9]  Residents began complaining that their tap water “started to look, taste and smell funny”.[10]

Residents blame their government for the condition of their water system. Research conducted showed that Flint River was highly corrosive, and that the Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the river with anti-corrosive agents.[11]  Therefore, the water was turning brown as a result of the water eroding the iron water mains.[12]  To make matters worse, lead began percolating into the water supply causing a threat to its residents.

Flint’s Water supply has been contaminated with lead causing health problems to its residents. Lead poisoning has been the main concern. Lead poisoning may decrease a persons IQ level, it also affects ones behavior and has been linked to criminality. [13]  It may also affect Brain development, “Kidney, and neurological functions.[14]  Children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults.[15]  There have been a number of fatal deaths as a result of the contaminated water.  It has been suspected that the contamination triggered the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.[16]  This disease, “which is caused by a bacterial infection, killed nine people in Flint, Michigan.”[17]

After two years of living with lead filled water, public uproars have pressured Michigan’s Governor to increase the state’s budget.[18]  Governor Snyder agreed to reserve an additional $195 million for Flint.[19] According to Snyder “The state already approved $37 million in Flint funding, twenty-five million dollars of Snyder’s latest allocation would go toward removing lead from the city’s pipes”. [20]  Snyder also stated “$25 million of the Flint funding would replace 5,000 known old pipes.[21]  Flint’s mayor Karen Weaver stated that the city plans to replace of the lead lines this year.[22] This project involves “removing up 13, 500 lead pipes over the 12 year period with a cost of 42 million.”[23] The overall project will cost the city 55 million dollars.[24] According to recent news articles, involuntary manslaughter charges may be brought to state official who are found to be responsible for Flint’s water crisis.[25]  If they are found guilty they may face up to 15 years in prison.[26]

Today the city has switched back to using Lake Huron for its water supply; researches found that they still detected lead levels in the water.[27]  Hopefully state officials can rectify the situation because the residents of Flint are living in unsanitary conditions. The government should take responsibility for causing the contamination of the water supply, because of their failure to treat the river with anti-corrosive agents. Their failure to clean the river violated their state laws; therefore the Department of Environmental Quality should take responsibility for poisoning their residents.  It will be difficult to prove officials from the Department of Environmental Quality were negligent with the handling the water supply, nonetheless, I believe they should face criminal charges as a result of it.


[1] Sara Ganim & Linh Tran, How Tap Water became Toxic in Flint Michigan, cnn (Jan. 13, 2016), http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7]  Ganim & Tran, supra note 1.

 

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Ganim & Tran, supra note 1.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Sara Ganim & Linh Tran, How Tap Water became Toxic in Flint Michigan, cnn (Jan. 13, 2016), http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/.

 

[18]  Michigan Governor Includes $195 Million for Flint in New Budget, nbcnews (Feb. 11, 2016), http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/flint-water-crisis/michigan-governor-includes-195-million-flint-new-budget-n516306.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] nbcnews,  supra note 18.

[25] Rob Verger, The Michigan Officials Responsible for Flint’s Water Crisis Could face Manslaughter Chargers, Vice News (Feb 10, 2016), https://news.vice.com/article/the-michigan-officials-responsible-for-flints-water-crisis-could-face-manslaughter-charges.

[26] Id.

[27] Id.

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