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The 411 on the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan

In anticipation for the winter storm Jonas, state of emergency status was declared in cities across the U.S. Flint, Michigan has declared the same status, but for far different reasons. For nearly two years, the city has been in a water crisis.

For years, Flint had been using Detroit’s water system, which meant paying a fee. As a city facing economic problems, the city changed its water source from Lake Huron to Flint River, which would cut out that cost from city budget.

City officials were working on a new water system that would supply water from Lake Huron but at a lower price. Flint would need another water source for the duration of the project, expected to be two years. The solution to this was to use Flint River, known to locals for its filth.

Shortly after the switch, residents noticed their water smelled, tasted, and looked strange. Yahoo! News reported “residents developed rashes, hair loss and other health ailments.” As if this wasn’t enough, contaminants like E. Coli were found in the water. Despite this, officials continued to assure residents that the water was safe to drink.

It was not until this past October that officials acknowledged the problem and took action. Flint went back to using water from Detroit and the National Guard came to help distribute water and other aid supplies. However, the damage had already been done. Flint River water contained lead, which has irreversible health impacts. A local doctor, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, tested toddler’s blood to find that there were extremely high levels of lead. Some long-term consequences include “learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental retardation,” according to the World Health Organization.

But who is to blame in this crisis? Many say that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder holds responsibility, and has recently come under intense pressure to make changes. Others believe that the Department of Environmental Quality should be held responsible, and four families have filed lawsuits against it. Regardless of who shoulders the blame, the carelessness of city and state officials has changed the lives of many, and not positively. The coming weeks will tell what is next for Flint, Michigan.

             

 

Originally from Boston, Caroline is a sophomore International Studies major and French minor at Fairfield University. She is a News Editor for Her Campus Fairfield as well as the Twitter Account Manager. When not hitting the books you can find her talking about cats and over posting on Instagram as @wiccancool.
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