The Flint Water Crisis Analysis
In the past few years, Flint, Michigan has been facing a water crisis that has led to the fear of serious health problems among many citizens. For over three years now, the people residing in Flint have been subjected to unsafe drinking water with toxic lead components. There is less that has been done to fix the issue that is plaguing Flint despite the numerous complaints from the victims. The authorities have been engaging some short-lived projects to address the problem which have proved unsuccessful. In order to fully address the problem, there is a lot that needs to be done. The root cause of the problem is the corroded, outdated lead pipes. There are two key factors that make the Flint, Michigan’s water condition a mega crisis. Firstly, the inability of the children and the aged to quench their thirst by drinking the water. Secondly, the health effects that the water poses to the individuals who consume it. No one is safe after consuming the water due to the high levels of lead in the water lines. This crisis ought not to be taken lightly. If it is not well addressed, it may lead to more detrimental circumstances as many families have already been affected by this traumatic situation. The main aim of this paper is to explore the Flint Water Crisis (FWC) in depth, citing its sources, causes and possible solutions.
The FWC dates back in 2014 when Flint switched its water supply from buying already treated water from Detroit suppliers whose source of water is Lake Huron (Campbell, Rachael and Deepa 2). This move was aimed to reduce the costs incurred by the city in acquiring safe drinking water. The city started treating water from the Flint River using a treatment facility owned domestically. The River water was not easily treatable since it is highly corrosive. The corrosive nature of the water quickly started damaging the aged water systems specially the copper and lead service lines with lead soldering (Campbell, Rachael and Deepa 7). The residents of Flint’ predominantly black with most of them living in extreme poverty, complained about the quality of their water claiming that it was not safe for human consumption. The people were able to quickly notice the sudden change as the color of the water was different. However, most people did not notice that they were indirectly being poisoned. The state and city officials denied the allegations for several months. In the last month of 2016, the city was declared to be in a state of emergency by the federal government after nearly twenty months of poisoning (Pieper, Tang and Marc 4352). By then, the water pipes were largely corroded and the lead was leaking into the water. The delayed action could be attributed to the failure by various government officials.
There are various listed human practices that heighten the effects of the mega-crisis. River water, as earlier mentioned is the most challenging in treating compared to all the other water sources. The high pollution rates in the rivers are as a result of the increased human activities on the rivers (Pieper, Tang and Marc 4356). The malpractice of dumping solid waste in to the rivers is the greatest pollutant. Industries have been for long known to dump their waste into the rivers. Agricultural waste products also contribute much to pollution in the rivers. The long term effects of these practices will definitely affect the environment. The other water sources will be filled by thee waste products as most of them solely rely on water from the rivers (Nukpezah 287). At this point, extreme water scarcity will set in as there will be no alternative safe water sources. Both the state and federal governments have been too reluctant in addressing the FWC. The problem has been there for quite some long and delayed action makes it worse. Earlier, the city had switched back to its initial water provider but it was rather too late for such a step to work. Action should have been takes as early as the first complain was heard. Alternatively, the planners should have been more careful when they implemented the domestic water treatment program (Nukpezah 301). They should have adequately planned for the unseen effects. The FWC is a social problem that will requires social action.
The greatest effort that that has been used to address the FWC is donating large truck loads of water containers to the city by majorly companies and high profile celebrities (Steven, Alison and Laura 7). However, this has hardly been effective as the amount received cannot cater for the needs of the entire population. Furthermore, the use of plastic bottles is neither environmentally friendly nor politically sustainable. Normally, an average person in the United States in a single day uses 101.5 gallons of water (Campbell, Rachael and Deepa 9). Sustaining the whole population using the bottled water has not only been impossible but also ridiculous. There are some permanent solutions which if engaged will fully reform Flint. The city can substitute the lead pipes with non-reactive systems such as plastic pipes (Steven, Alison and Laura 15). The city can also opt to switch back to the initial water supplier, Detroit. These measures however expensive are the only ways that the city can get clean water. Replacing the pipes would be a better option since the costs will only be incurred once unlike switching to Detroit which will require regular funding. Experts have estimated the cost of replacing the pipes to be around 1.5 billion dollars (Steven, Alison and Laura 16). The authorities should consider saving the lives of the residents rather than saving on expenditure. Replacement is undoubtedly the most effective solution. The government should consider pulling funding for the high costs from public donors. Before the installation of the plastic pipes, the citizens should be discouraged from drinking the polluted water through holding classes to explain the dangers of the water. This step will help reduce further tragedies as many residents are already victims of brain damage and memory loss. Other solutions to the FWC include switching to a private water supply and treatment through lead absorption using reverse absorption and carbon filters.
The FWC is a severe problem that cannot be fixed overnight. The efforts being made by many individuals to solve the problem should be appreciated whether short-lived or long-lived. The volunteers who provide bottled water to the FWC victims are temporarily addressing the problem. However, the crisis should be put to an end completely with immediacy. As much as the residents push the government to replace the lines, they should also learn their roles in ensuring that this does not happen again. Everyone should learn to dispose waste correctly and also practice waste recycling. Saving water could also help preserve the water sources. Water system replacement and source conservation are the ideal approaches to deal with the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
Campbell, Carla, et al. “A Case Study of Environmental Injustice: The Failure in Flint.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13 .951 (2016): 1-11.
Nukpezah, Julius A. “The Financial and Public Health Emergencies in Flint, Michigan: Crisis Management and the American Federalism.” Risks, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy 8.4 (2017): 284-311.
Pieper, Kelsey J., Min Tang and Edwards A Marc . “Flint Water Crisis Caused By Interrupted Corrosion Control: Investigating “Ground Zero” Home.” Environmental Science & Technology 52.7 (2018): 4350-4357.
Steven, Gray, et al. “Identifying the Causes, Consequences, and Solutions to the Flint Water Crisis Through Collaborative Modeling.” Environmental Justice 10.5 (2017): 1-17.