by Lauren Killgrove – Photo Editor
For the past three years, the water in Flint, Michigan, has been toxic. It began when the city, to save money, switched their water source in Lake Huron to the Flint River. Around eight months later, residents started noticing their good water turn brown. Caused by iron in the river, the discolored water is toxic and is dangerous for people to drink. The government should have never put their citizens at risk like this.
Although this is a crisis, the water was not immediately treated and with anti-corrosion materials. This is evidence of the neglect from the Michigan government because not using any anti-corrosive material for contaminated water goes against federal law. Not only is the government forsaking the situation and the community’s health, but also has been violating the law.
The government did not react soon enough to this unsafe hazard and their actions have shown irresponsibility and possible prejudice.
The city of Flint is dominantly African American, with a rate of 56.6 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many say neglecting the water is a racist statement. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has made a 129 page report for the crisis and explains that the predicament “is the result of systematic racism that was built into the foundation and growth of Flint, its industry and suburban area.”
Not only could this be a case of racism, but also a case of classism. Flint is a city that has a population that is 41.2 percent below the poverty line, another rate from the U.S. Census Bureau. The NAACP has even released a statement saying, “Would more have been done, and at a much faster pace, if nearly 40 percent of Flint residents were not living below the poverty line? The answer is unequivocally yes.”
Of course, this situation is mostly the fault of Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who has been in office since 2011, and has done nothing but help raise the profits of the bottled water industry. Snyder’s ignorance and lack of care for his community, as well as congress’s since they haven’t helped until late last year, has forced the people of Flint to bathe, cook, and clean with bottled water because the other option of tap water could be harmful or potentially life threatening.
In the case of Flint, our country has shoved aside people in true need of assistance and have lived on throughout our lives, while the citizens of this city have had their lives changed drastically by the switch of a water supply.
According to CNBC, an estimated $55 million dollars would be needed to fix the water crisis with new pipes. However, over time that cost was estimated to be around $100 million dollars. In December of 2016, congress issued a payment of $180 million to the city of Flint to fix the water, but the problem will not be truly fixed for another three years. It took congress 20 months to even decide to finally fix the water crisis, which is unacceptable.
Water is vital to human existence and should be given to people without a second thought. No one should be able to pick and choose who should safely and easily get this necessity to life. With the city of Flint, water is not being treated with as much care as it is needed. The government is putting their citizens at risk and it is unfair, because water is not given so much as a need as it is a luxury.
Money should have been given since the beginning. In other emergencies, such as forest fires and other natural disasters, money was sent right away. This makes sense, because those disasters were dangerous and injured or killed people, but it does not make sense that people who have been struggling to get edible and non-dangerous water have been neglected for several years. The government’s actions have been inexcusable. They have been failing at taking care of their citizens from the moment they willingly put their people at risk.
The government gave out its money the way hospitals give donor body parts—whoever needs something more urgently, they get it more urgently. Now, this would be okay, if there weren’t people who have needed urgent help for the last three years.
The government should be more willing to give their people what they need, and treat every state of emergency equally, and should ever delay help for this long.