The people should test the water at least every two weeks. By Ruth Steinhardt. Here’s why―and what you can do to help. its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. To protect our water supplies, it is crucial that we upgrade our nationwide water infrastructure, prioritizing the replacement of an estimated 6.1 million lead service pipes. Between 6000 to 12000 children have been exposed to lead contamination in drinking water over this period. If contaminants have reached dangerous levels, the water supplier is required to send customers public notification. The US state of Michigan says it has agreed a preliminary settlement to pay $600m (£455m) to victims of the Flint water crisis. City, state, and federal missteps also destroyed residents’ trust in government agencies. But they could not have been more wrong. Partnering with NRDC and ACLU, residents of this Michigan city took their local government to court in a battle for safe drinking water. They made errors with testing, by not taking samples from the most affected localities, and sending them to testing labs that produced wrong results. Rick Snyder's administration in scrutiny and criminal charges against a number of public officials. This is unreal. I bet the government workers have fresh water. In April 2014, Flint, Michigan, changed its water source and residents were exposed to high levels of lead and other pollutants. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.”. That is exactly what the residents of Flint, Michigan thought as well. On the heels of the release of test results in the fall of 2015 showing elevated lead levels in Flint’s water—and its children—local residents joined with NRDC and other groups to petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to launch an immediate emergency federal response to the disaster. By Jayde Lovell on March 2, 2016 The National Guard hand out water testing jugs for residents at a fire station January 21, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Inadequate treatment and testing of the water resulted in a series of major water quality and health issues for Flint residents—issues that were chronically ignored, overlooked, and discounted by government officials even as complaints mounted that the foul-smelling, discolored, and off-tasting water piped into Flint homes for 18 months was causing skin rashes, hair loss, and itchy skin. The Flint government needs to take the community's help more seriously , just as if it was affecting their own familys health problem ! local residents joined with NRDC and other groups, serious health impacts—even madness and death, Fighting the Tide of Watered Down Justice, Inside the Fight for Clean Water in Newark, At Least 82 Percent of New York Schools Have a Lead Problem, An Uphill Battle, and Persistence, in Flint. Both problems pose significant health risks, but many people grappling with them can’t afford major renovations—and can’t move out. To date, the most senior official to be charged is Nick Lyon, director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), who is standing trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of two men linked to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. When we open the tap to take a drink of water, we assume it is safe, right? This new water was highly corrosive. Copyright © 2010-20 Revenue from lumber funded the establishment of a local carriage-making industry, which not too long after gave way to the production of automobiles. After officials repeatedly dismissed claims that Flint’s water was making people sick, residents took action. Institutional racism and classism combined with an environment poisoned almost beyond repair and a lack of … That is exactly what the residents of Flint, Michigan too thought. But for the struggling motor town, the recession had forced them to look for ways to cut costs. Fortunately, a majority of Americans have access to safe water, a luxury most of us probably enjoy with little thought. While action by the water utility is required once the level of lead in public water supplies reaches 15 ppb (as measured at the 90th percentile of samples collected), the EPA acknowledges that “there is no safe level of exposure to lead.” Independent tests conducted in fall 2015 revealed that nearly 17 percent of samples from hundreds of Flint homes measured above the 15 ppb federal lead action level, with several samples registering above 100 ppb. The slow pace of progress drew the group of residents working with NRDC back to court to demand that Flint comply with its obligations to identify and replace lead pipes and supply filters to residents after each pipe replacement. Nearly one in six of the city’s homes has been abandoned. Besides, the pipes were very old. A class-action lawsuit alleges lead poisoning and some have called for Michigan Gov. A story of environmental injustice and bad decision making, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, began in 2014, when the city switched its drinking water … Despite protests by residents lugging jugs of discolored water, officials maintained that the water was safe. It turns out that water flowing through the pipes into Flint homes was contaminated. However, the corrosive water has permanently damaged the lead pipes causing the lead to continue leaching into the water. In a deal that could close a chapter on one of the country's worst public health disasters in recent memory, most of … You can go one step farther by having your water tested, either by your water supplier (which may provide this service for free) or by a certified lab. The water in the Flint River has a lower ph, and more chlorides (salts) in it. America is facing its second lead crisis. More than 15 months ago, residents of Flint started noticing that water coming through their pipes looked, smelled and tasted funny. That, along with blood tests of several children in Flint confirmed that lead content was very high and far beyond approved limits. Michigan being a heavily wooded state Michigan was a prime region for the lumber trade. I think that they should have kept an eye on the water because those pipes look nasty. Soon local residents began to protest. If necessary, you can also contact your elected officials, your state’s drinking water program, or the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791). A little more than a year ago, the city of Flint changed its water supply source. they should have tested the water first before the used it then give bottled water from other states. A more momentous win came the following March with a major settlement requiring the city to replace the city’s thousands of lead pipes with funding from the state, and guaranteeing further funding for comprehensive tap water testing, a faucet filter installation and education program, free bottled water through the following summer, and continued health programs to help residents deal with the residual effects of Flint’s tainted water. Not surprisingly, the Flint River is rumored to have caught fire—twice. That was when authorities finally admitted that things were very wrong and declared tap water unsafe. … In November 2016, a federal judge sided with Flint residents and ordered the implementation of door-to-door delivery of bottled water to every home without a properly installed and maintained faucet filter. It turns out that water flowing through the pipes into Flint homes was contaminated. The city's economic decline began during the 1980s, when GM downsized. It is located near the Flint River and is the principal city in the region of Mid-Michigan. Though Flint is just 75 miles south of the Great Lakes, access to this fresh water source had become costly. The EPA failed to act, which only spurred residents on. The city’s switch from Detroit water to the Flint River coincided with an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease (a severe form of pneumonia) that killed 12 and sickened at least 87 people between June 2014 and October 2015. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law. If you are concerned about your own drinking water, take a look at your water utility’s annual water quality report (also called a consumer confidence report), which is usually posted online and is required to disclose if contaminants have been found in your water. NRDC attorney Albert Huang shows us the range of solutions to consider. The damage can reverberate for a lifetime, reducing IQ and physical growth and contributing to anemia, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and behavioral problems. The federal action level for lead is not a health-based number; it merely is an administrative trigger for remediation by the water utility. If you discover your water is contaminated, one option is to use NSF-certified water filters that are designed to eliminate specific contaminants. Five-month-old Dakota Erler of Flint gets blood drawn from her heel in order to have her lead levels tested at Carriage Town Ministries in 2016. It rose a GM company town, home to scores of car plants in the area over the decades. According to the 2010 census, Flint has a population of 102,434, making it the seventh largest city in Michigan.The Flint metropolitan area is located entirely within Genesee County. The biggest mistake that authorities made was that they failed to treat the Flint River water with anti-corrosive agents before pumping it to homes. But few districts have made it clear how they’re addressing the troubles at their taps. What Happened: Flint, Michigan obtained their water through Detroit for 50 years, sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River. That's not good. One of the few bright spots of the Flint water crisis was the response of everyday citizens who, faced with the failure of city, state, and federal agencies to protect them, united to force the government to do its job. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission, a state-established body, concluded that the poor governmental response to the Flint crisis was a “result of systemic racism.”. Even more alarming were findings reported in September 2015 by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha: The incidence of elevated blood-lead levels in children citywide had nearly doubled since 2014—and nearly tripled in certain neighborhoods. They should test the water before they use any of it. However, it is important to note that thousands of Flint residents are still getting their water from lead pipes. In March 2016, the coalition took additional action to address an urgent need, filing a motion to ensure that all residents—including children, the elderly, and others unable to reach the city’s free water distribution centers—would have access to safe drinking water through a bottled water delivery service or a robust filter installation and maintenance program. Flint’s water supply was plagued by more than lead. The city’s ongoing water crisis has left residents dependent on bottled water. Those efforts paid off. Thanks for signing up. This precipitated the tragic decision in 2013 to end the city’s five-decade practice of piping treated water for its residents from Detroit in favor of a cheaper alternative: temporarily pumping water from the Flint River until a new water pipeline from Lake Huron was built. It is most important, though, that you notify your water utility. All rights reserved. As the industries along the river’s shores evolved, so too did the city’s economy. Vague regulations let government officials hide drinking water contamination from the public. Melissa Mays and other Flint residents address the media after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine the Flint water situation in 2016. How Can I Fix Mold and Lead Paint Issues in My House on a Small Budget? This place was founded in 1918 by a fur trader named Jacob Smith and then was known by great achievement and has left good remarks in history. I bet my state (Florida) wouldn't do that. Another Huge Drinking Water Fail Surfaces in Michigan, Water Pollution: Everything You Need to Know. The unfortunate truth is that these mistakes were avoidable. While awaiting trial, Lyon remains the state’s health director. State Disclosures. Denials and delays from city officials have failed to keep residents safe from high levels of lead in their drinking water. The Flint water crisis begins On April 25, 2014 officials from Flint, Michigan switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure for the struggling city. But they could not have been more wrong. A recent NRDC analysis found thousands of community water systems have violated federal drinking water laws, including the Lead and Copper Rule, which provides safeguards against lead. That means it’s more corrosive. These community organizers are busy picking up the slack. But the 1980s put the brakes on that period of prosperity, as rising oil prices and auto imports resulted in shuttered auto plants and laid-off workers, many of whom eventually relocated. Flint, Michigan, tried to save money on water. The Flint water crisis is an ongoing public health crisis that started in 2014, after the drinking water source for the city of Flint, Michigan, was contaminated.In April 2014, Flint changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water (sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River.Officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. The poisoned water has affected the health of the city's residents. In the mid-20th century, Flint—the birthplace of General Motors—was the flourishing home to nearly 200,000 people, many employed by the booming automobile industry. Ensuring that the provisions of the 2017 settlement are met is an ongoing task. Modern science shows that even low levels of lead can impair the brain development of fetuses, infants, and young children. GW community filled a room at Gelman Library for a panel discussion on the water emergency in Flint, Mich. (William Atkins/GW Today) March 02, 2016. Large doses of lead exposure in adults has been linked to high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and reduced fertility. Meanwhile, Flint decided to switch back to the Detroit water supply. Incidents of residents developing skin rashes and hair loss began to rise. More than half the water lines in Flint were made of lead - a cheap metal. It was at this juncture that local authorities were forced to look for ways to cuts costs and meet their budgets. Long before the recent crisis garnered national headlines, the city of Flint was eminently familiar with water woes. Indeed, members of the lawsuit have already returned to court to see that the city properly manages its lead service line replacement program and provides filters for faucets. The third-largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease recorded in U.S. history—as well as the discovery in 2014 of fecal coliform bacteria in city water—was likely a result of the city’s failure to maintain sufficient chlorine in its water mains to disinfect the water. But the work of Flint residents and their advocates isn’t finished yet. Resident Lorenzo Lee Avery Jr. stands outside of Flint City Hall during a Flint Lives Matter event in 2016. It turns out that water flowing through the pipes into Flint homes was contaminated. In early 2016, a coalition of citizens and groups—including Flint resident Melissa Mays, the local group Concerned Pastors for Social Action, NRDC, and the ACLU of Michigan—sued the city and state officials in order to secure safe drinking water for Flint residents. 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