In Flint, Michigan, there is poison running from the water faucets. It’s one example of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Flint, a once thriving major Michigan city, is crumbling in poverty. In 1978, General Motors offered almost 80,000 decently paying jobs in Flint, but as the auto industry moved more jobs out of Michigan, General Motors jobs in Flint fell to only one-tenth of that number by 2006.
As that tax revenue left the city from the declining population, there wasn’t enough money to care for the water system, and it’s fallen into a state of disarray. According to the Nation, Flint’s poverty rate is at 40 percent, the residents’ water bills are skyrocketing, and what is pouring out of the tap is not even fit for bathing in. Despite falling water quality, some residents are complaining of water bills in excess of $300 per month.
— Ford Foundation (@FordFoundation) July 17, 2015
In June, the ACLU of Michigan spoke out about Flint’s dangerous water supply in a mini-documentary called Hard To Swallow.
“Residents have complained that the water is not only smelly and brown, but has left some residents physically ill. Yet, despite their cries, city leaders insist that everything is alright. For Flint residents, though, those assurances have gone down about as easily as the water they’re being asked to drink.”
According to the City of Flint, the recent water tests say that it’s safe, but residents are still complaining of having to put their children on rounds of antibiotics after simply bathing in the city’s water. Flint officials say that the water has been tested in eight sites and has come up within safe levels, but residents want their faucets to be the real test sites, because they say the water is far from drinkable. They say it’s not even fit to be used as bath water. As recently as this week, Flint residents on social media are still sharing photos of children with severe rashes that doctors are blaming on Flint’s toxic municipal water supply. Just recently, the city announced that the installation of the Granulated Carbon filter media (GAC) has begun at Flint’s Water Treatment Plant, and within a couple of weeks, that water filter will begin to reduce the Total Organic Carbon (TOC) in the water. City officials hope that with TOC levels reduced, the formation of total trihalomethanes (TTHM) in the residents’ water will also be reduced.
Flint Mayor says it’s safe to drink tap water. Let’s ask LeeAnne Walter. http://t.co/RJU4epaIDs pic.twitter.com/pApATGCkuJ
— ACLU of Michigan (@ACLUofMichigan) July 10, 2015
“TTHM is the colorless, odorless byproduct gas created by the reaction between TOC and the chlorine used for disinfecting water during treatment,” the city explained.
Residents say extra chlorine was added to the water to try to kill off the E. coli that was also plaguing Flint’s exceptionally expensive drinking water.
LeeAnne Walters told Deadline Detroit that she had her water tested by independent experts at Virginia Tech University in an attempt to learn the truth about the water her children were being exposed to. It wasn’t just dangerous amounts of disinfectants or bacteria. The lead in her water was more than twice the amount that would classify it as hazardous waste. Her children were literally being exposed to hazardous waste from Flint’s municipal water supply. That explained how her son came down with lead poisoning, she said. A leaked document made public by the ACLU of Michigan showed that other homes that were not part of the compliance testing sites also showed high levels of lead.
“I have never in my 25-year career seen such outrageously high levels going into another home in the United States,” Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards explained. “This was literally hazardous-waste levels.”
The lead level coming out of her faucet from the City of Flint’s water supply was found to be at 13,200 parts per billion.
“70-mile protest march from Detroit to Flint highlights water…” http://t.co/HEU61dKjKr #DetroitFlintH20 pic.twitter.com/n21Hwqr97m
— Tawana aka Honeycomb (@Combsthepoet) July 6, 2015
For nearly a year, ever since Flint started drawing water from the Flint River, residents have complained about skin rashes and their hair falling out, Michigan Radio reported. In April, City Council Vice President Wantwaz Davis stated that Flint’s water was so atrocious that it seemed like Governor Rick Snyder and Flint emergency manager Jerry Ambrose, who left at the end of April after being appointed by Snyder under Public Act 436, were attempting to commit genocide against Flint residents, according to MLIVE.
This is how you use water as a weapon against the poor in a community #flintwater pic.twitter.com/WsQXfIGEtW
— #FL1NT (@C1TYofFL1NT) July 18, 2015
While Flint’s water crisis seems to be falling on deaf ears around the nation, experts say that Flint is a foreshadowing of what the rest of America could see in the coming years if something doesn’t happen to improve infrastructure. Two years ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the American water infrastructure a “D+” grade, and warned that, like in Flint, “much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life.”
[Photo via ACLU’s YouTube Video]