Friday, January 22, 2016

The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

As a former Detroiter who now lives in Washington DC, my heart cries out for the residents of Flint. The blame lies at the incompetent state officials who prioritized cutting costs over providing healthy water to the people. Though the Obama administration announced $80 million in federal aid to the city of Flint, please spread the word about the crisis in Flint because the water is still unsafe to use. Let's be honest -- this preventable tragedy is an example of environmental racism where leadership is indifferent to the deplorable conditions in which poor and minority residents live. State officials would have never provided polluted water to wealthy communities.

From Diversity, Inc:

The city of Flint, with a population of nearly 100,000, is majority African-American — in fact, at 57 percent, its Black population is more than three times the national average. Additionally, more than 41 percent of residents live beneath the poverty line — nearly three times the national average.

The lead contamination occurred after the state decided to separate Flint’s water system from Detroit’s water line in spring 2014 as a cost-saving measure, switching Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River — which already had a bad reputation as a polluted water source. A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality did not treat the water for corrosion, in accordance with federal law, and the improperly treated water from the Flint River allowed lead to leach from the pipes into the water supply.

From the Detroit Free Press:
In Flint, where lead-poisoned water has sparked international outcry, the image of Sincere Smith, his skin covered by severe rashes his mother believes are the result of bathing in the contaminated water, has become a symbol of the city's suffering.
UPDATE (02/24/2016):Ongoing Coverage of Flint Water Crisis (NBC News) and How to Prevent the Next Flint (The Atlantic>

UPDATE (02/20/2016): What e-mails have shown us about Flint water crisis and Timeline: How Flint's water crisis unfolded and Jesse Jackson in Flint: 'It’s time to fight back' (Detroit Free Press)

Related content in TIME Magazine and the New York Times:

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