By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor
For those of you who keep up with the news or don’t live under a rock, you should be aware that the city of Flint, Michigan, has been suffering a horrible water crisis. The crisis began in 2014, with multiple types of bacteria found in the water eventually leading up to lead contamination. A federal lawsuit was filed by the residents claiming that 14 state and city officials had knowingly exposed the residents to toxic water. The struggle went on for three years, until early 2017 when officials reported that the water had returned to acceptable levels. However, residents are still not advised to drink the water.
Since this crisis has been going on for multiple years, it has unfortunately been forgotten time and time again. Every once in awhile, the news will give us a quick reminder that some of our fellow citizens are being poisoned.
It wasn’t until this past week that I truly realized what the people of Flint had to endure. After a few days of heavy rain, multiple townships including mine had been issued a water boil advisory. The water was contaminated and unsafe to drink, so my family had to resort to boiling water or buying bottled water.
While I cannot compare my experience to the years of hardship the residents of Flint experienced – I was able to get an idea of how hard it is to live without clean water, even if it was just for a few days. Nobody wanted to shower, dishes piled up in the sink, and nearby grocery stores sold out of bottled water in minutes. We hardly wanted to cook because that would only increase the amount of dishes we couldn’t wash. Our two dogs also had to rely on bottled water. It was annoying, but I didn’t complain. How could I when Fox News is reporting that the people of Flint can’t shower without their hair falling out as a result? How could I complain when the Detroit Free Press reported children had developed rashes and other mysterious illnesses from the contaminated water?
Thankfully, our water was returned to an acceptable state after a little more than a weekend. But for the city of Flint, a permanent, safe water solution is still in question. The Flint City Council and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality have been battling in federal court over whether or not the city should sign a 30-year contract to buy water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The city will have to replace all lead pipes, which isn’t expected to be completed until 2020, leaving the residents of Flint with nothing to look forward to until then. According to ABC12 News, an engineer at the Flint Water Plant said the facility will need $60 million worth of upgrades.
The water crisis is at the hands of the officials of the state of Michigan. They failed to protect their residents, and 12 people died as a result. Health and safety should be a priority of anyone in a position of power. The State and its officials should accept full responsibility for the actions that led to this disaster.
So what exactly are these officials doing, to come to a conclusion? Basically nothing. The advisory committee that was created by previous Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to address public concerns on the lead-contaminated water crisis has reportedly canceled it’s fourth-consecutive meeting, on the grounds that they believe there is nothing to discuss, according to MLive-Flint Journal.
There are still families living in Flint who are being billed hundreds of dollars for water that they can’t use. There are children whose health and future are being severely affected because of this contaminated water. This is something to discuss. This is worthy of outrage.