The crisis in Flint, Michigan


Michigan Municipal League (flickr)

Flint Michigan and Citizens Bank Weather Ball

By Blake Wood, Staff Writer

By this time, I hope everyone is aware of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, but if you’re not, I’ll sum it up as quickly as I can. Flint was in a financial bind and in order to save money, they decided to switch the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. The Flint River is notoriously polluted and the water coming out of the river is corrosive. A large amount of service lines in Flint are made of lead and with the water being corrosive, lead was able to enter the water. Flint did switch back to Lake Huron as their water supply in October, but by that time, the service lines were already corroded and lead continued to enter the city’s water supply.

Flint, Michigan has a population of more than 90,000 people, with nearly 57% of them being black, and 41% living at or beneath the poverty line. As Hilary Clinton mentioned during Sunday’s debate, would this problem have gone on for so long, or even occurred, in a middle class, predominantly white community?

Personally, I don’t understand how this crisis could have happened in the first place. It’s not as if the fact that the Flint River is a mess was a secret, and the fact that the city of Flint has lead service lines is also public knowledge. Local officials should have seen this coming, and if they couldn’t, someone else should have, whether it be scientists, the federal government or someone else.

It’s a tragedy that in many ways, is already beyond repair. Children who have ingested lead are not only at risk of physical problems like skin lesions and hair loss. Research has shown that lead can effect a developing child’s IQ, ultimately leading to learning disabilities down the road. It’s heartbreaking to see thousands of children put at risk over something that neither they nor their parents had any control over.