Claire L. Michigan

Ending The Flint Water Crisis

The Flint water crisis has been occurring for nearly two years now and it must come to an end. We can no longer have a third world crisis in the United States of America

Dear Mr./Madam President,

Arguably the most dangerous city in the United States, the previous Buick capital of the world, or the city with the lead water. Whichever you know Flint, Michigan by just know they are in deep trouble and have been since April of 2014. The mid Michigan city of Flint that once thrived as the home to General Motors, is now one of our nation’s poorest places, with a poverty rate of over 40 percent. To coincide with Flint’s incredibly high poverty rates, the crime and murder rates are some of the highest in the country. Flint, which once had a population of nearly a quarter of a million, now has a population barely under 100,000. The closing of the automotive plants, left Flint in severe trouble, considering most of Flint’s residents were tied to or employed in the automotive industry.

The main and current issue is the Flint water crisis. Do you remember that? The residents of Flint sure do as they are afraid to touch their water, and have been for nearly two years now. With Flint’s economy damaged by severe debt, they had to switch from sharing Detroit’s water system to using their own Flint River water. However the city has neglected to treat the lead contaminated water properly and fix the decaying pipes. What was meant to be only a temporary fix, intended to help the economy, only pushed them into further and more severe trouble. The pipes of the Flint water system are of very old age, therefore they are made of lead. These pipes have corroded over the years, releasing lead and other fatal substances into the water. People do not understand that it is not the water that is bad, it’s the pipes the water is running through. The Flint water system in previous years has caused severe lead poisoning, which has lead to brutal health issues in the residents of Flint. There have been twelve known deaths associated with the Flint water crisis , while that may not seem like many, that is only the beginning. The water has lead to painful rashes, hair loss, lead poisoning, and there has been 91 known cases of Legionnaire's disease. The symptoms primarily affect the youth of Flint, there have been many cases where children have shown signs of lead toxicity. These symptoms can take a toll on the learning and behavior of children long term.

What can we do about this? This issue lies in the lack of knowledge people have on the subject. So many bottled water drives have been held around Michigan and the nation. Though the intentions are meant well, there are ultimately better solutions overall. Though Flint needs clean water in the meantime until the issue is resolved, they truly need money. As covered previously, Flint is of extreme poverty, therefore, they have little to no money to treat the situation. This is so unfortunate considering hypothetically if something like this were to happen to a larger city like New York or Los Angeles, it would be resolved immediately. Yes, I understand that those cities have much larger and wealthier populations, but what makes the citizens of Flint any less important than those of larger and wealthier populations? The citizens of Flint should not have to wake up daily and question when they will have safe water again. The community of Flint is constantly living in fear that if they drink their tap water they will be at risk of health issues. It is pretty pathetic that this crisis had been ongoing for nearly two years and there has been no complete resolution. Parents are having trouble keeping their children safe, business owners are losing customers, the home values in Flint are worth nothing, and the entire once flourishing city of Flint is in a depression. If nothing is done about this crisis, Flint will fall into an even further depression. We can continue to donate bottled water, but until Flint is in a financially stable situation, the crisis cannot and will not be resolved. One minor solution is to donate larger quantities of water, such as gallons or jugs because it is more practical for cooking and for daily use.

The government has had an extremely slow response to the crisis and many predict that it is because the group being affected is the minority, 57 percent of Flint’s population is African American. Though African American people may not be the minority in Flint. Only 12 percent of the population in the U.S. is African American, so overall they are the minority. Many will say that if Flint’s population was predominantly white then the Flint water crisis would not be this unceasing. It is not only that the people of Flint are the minority, it is that the people are low income too. Not only myself, but many others strongly believe that one’s race or income should not prevent them from protection and basic human rights.

Plans to fix the corroded pipes have been brought up, but none have been followed through with. The state and federal government need to act now, they have put it off long enough. They need to come up with a solution and invest their time and money into the crisis. Flint needs not only money, but support. Flint’s corroded pipes and lead water can not be resolved through high school bottled water drives. The residents of Flint cannot put up with this any longer, they have dealt with the hardship long enough, they are helpless. The government has waited two years, two years too long. The Flint water crisis must come to an end once and for all. Having access to clean water is basic human right. I firmly believe that the government’s lack of concern towards the Flint water crisis has compromised some of the basic principles of the constitution. The Flint water crisis violates the Safe Drinking Water Act established in 1974. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “ The safe drinking water is the federal law that protects the public drinking water supplies throughout the nation.” The state and federal government have failed the citizens of Flint by continuously ignoring their complaints of discolored and lead poisoned water. Our officials’ continuous denial that there was a serious problem only further hurt Flint. As the forefathers of our nation believed in liberty, justice, and welfare of its people, the lack of our governments to abide by the principles of our constitution is saddening. The Safe Drinking Water Act was one of the greatest and most relevant human rights law our nation has ever passed.

Growing up with my father sharing stories about the city that once thrived in the automotive industry, the city of Flint holds a special place in my heart. I also have many family members who work and live near the city. My father grew up in Flushing a town barely outside of Flint, and went to Powers Catholic High School in Flint. It breaks not only my father’s heart, but the people of Flint to see their hometown go through such unfound adversity, when they knew a city who once prospered. According to John Deinbach, a Widener law professor, “The right to clean air and pure water is equivalent to the right of free speech.” I could not agree with this anymore, this is a basic constitutional right that has been absolutely decimated in the city of Flint. Our officials cannot truly understand the devastation that has struck Flint until they see the damage for themselves. We have an ongoing third world crisis occurring in the United States of America. I know our forefathers would have been proud of Flint , Michigan’s industrial accomplishments, yet disappointed in the lack of responsibility of our chosen officials who have let these uncalled for events happen. Shame on those who have overlooked this crisis and have neglected one of our nation’s most basic rights. Let the most fundamental and core value of our our country prevail, “ and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”


Claire Lynch