Dear Future President,
In April 2014, disaster struck in a city that is a half an hour away from me. It was discovered that water contaminated with lead began flowing through the homes within Flint, Michigan. Water that the residents had been drinking for months. Water that had the potential to cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, mental retardation, and miscarriages. The Flint water crisis is a crisis that could have been avoided, and action must be taken so that it does not happen again. A crisis not learned from is more dangerous than a spur of spontaneous disasters.
The first problem I have to address regarding the Flint water crisis here in Michigan, a town right in my backyard, is, that it was not only predicted, but warned against as if it was a flashing red alarm. So why did the Flint water crisis happen? It shouldn’t have, because it happened before. The Huffington Post explained how in 2001 in Washington DC, there was a change in water treatment that increased the corrosive nature of the water, causing the pipes to release lead into the water supply. This is essentially what happened in Flint. According to NPR, the city switched water sources and neglected to test for corrosive chemical levels. The new water source corroded the existing pipes and ate away the protective layer, causing lead to leak into the water. Why didn’t the DC water crisis cause a surge in awareness and an increase in prevention tactics? Why wasn’t there a widespread effort to check and make sure that pipes were up to date? Why did the government let this happen again? This tremendous oversight was caused by lack of effective authority as well as funds.
Money is the cause and the solution of the Flint Water Crisis, and to not address the financial circumstances would be leaving out a critical aspect. Money was the reason the water source was switched and what will repair the damage caused by that switch. Money is what is holding the repairs back. Money is a key aspect of the Flint water crisis--so where should it have been used? The cause of the crisis was the switch of water sources from Lake Huron to the Flint River because the city was searching for a cheaper water source. An initial solution to the expensive water was presented: to switch water providers, which would supposedly save the city $200 million over 5 years. Although this was wise in theory, it was not executed properly. First a pipeline had to first be built connecting Flint to the new water provider, but it was cut off from the initial water provider in the meantime. They had to find a temporary water source, the Flint River, which was a viable option in the 1960’s (before any water testing regulations were in place). Almost immediately after the switch, citizens all over the city sent in complaints over the water quality. This oversight in water testing would cost the city of Flint $55 million dollars in repairs and $400 million in social costs for the 8,000 individuals affected. The Huffington Post explained how roughly 10 million Americans are receiving water from pipes including lead. If all of these pipes were to release lead into the water, using the same costs of the Flint water crisis, lead pipes could potentially cost the United States $500 billion dollars in just social costs, with a large amount of money needed toward repairs as well. This statistic also doesn’t include the human cost and social impact that would result. Is it better to spend the money now in prevention, or later in repairs and devastation? It is the President’s responsibility to make sure that taxpayers’ money is being spent the right way, so it is not wasted and people are protected.
So, as President, how will you make sure that America’s youth is not robbed of their potential? How will you make sure that mothers aren’t forced to watch their kids suffer because the government wasn’t good enough? How will you make sure that our tax money is being spent efficiently and effectively? I know you will do things the right way, the first time. Experts who predicted these situations will be heard. Even if it is more expensive, old and potentially dangerous pipes will be substituted for newer and safer pipes, to ensure the safety of our citizens. Meticulous water testing measures will be taken before any major decision is made. Public service announcements will be made to inform homeowners how to test and ensure the safety of their own water.
The President holds the fate of Americans in their hands, the person without impediment, who recognizes the magnitude of his or her position, who negotiates the unabridged truths, and is representative of our citizens, in spite of being both powerful and criticized. The slightest act of prevention is superior to a blatant disregard. How will you ensure the safety of Americans so no one will have to endure a crisis like the citizens of Flint, Michigan?
Delaney, Arthur. “Lots Of Cities Have The Same Lead Pipes That Poisoned Flint.” The Huffington Post, The Huffington Post, 28 Jan. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lead-pipes-everywhere_us_56a8e916e4b0f71799288f54.
Delaney, Arthur. “What's Gone Right With The Flint Water Crisis.” The Huffington Post, The Huffington Post, 11 Feb. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/flint-water-crisis_us_56bcb848e4b0c3c5505042fa.
Fox, Maggie. “Flint Water Crisis Isn't The First - and Won't Be the Last: Activists.” NBC News, NBC News, 20 Jan. 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/flint-water-crisis/flint-water-crisis-isn-t-first-won-t-be-last-n500626.
Kennedy, Merrit. “Lead-Laced Water In Flint: A Step-By-Step Look At The Makings Of A Crisis.” NPR, NPR, 20 Apr. 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/465545378/lead-laced-water-in-flint-a-step-by-step-look-at-the-makings-of-a-crisis.