WATER CRISIS, FLINT, MICHIGAN, 2014-2019
The first topic was why Flint officials wanted to change the city’s source of water; as Anna Clark explained:
“It had been relying on water from Lake Huron from the Detroit Water Department for about 50 years. The quality was good, but there was a lot of unhappiness about the affordability. It was extremely expensive — the most expensive or among the most expensive water rates in the country. And especially for a city with a very high poverty rate, this was really getting to the point of crisis. And a lot of folks really felt like, ‘We want our own water system. We want some more control.’ So, it decided, it was under state-appointed emergency management, that it was going to switch to a new water department. And until that new water department was built, it was going to temporarily use the Flint River as its drinking water source, and sort of reboot its 50-year-old water plant to provide that.”
Changing the source of water from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014 led to issues of contamination from lead pipes that caused a public health hazard. The incident is the subject of an extensive article in Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis], and it garnered major coverage in the traditional national media as well.
The Flint River water was not given the same treatment that the Lake Huron / Detroit River water had received, and thus it was left more corrosive to the lead pipes in use in Flint. One public health study found that high lead levels in Flint children went from 2.5% of that population to 5% during the period before the condition was remedied.
On January 5, 2016, Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, declared the city to be in a state of emergency, and this was followed by a similar declaration by President Barack Obama, who authorized additional help from two Federal agencies.
Several government officials were fired over the incident and over a dozen lawsuits filed. Near the end of 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate approved a $170 million program to ameliorate the situation in Flint. In 2017, Flint had come within the relevant Federal limits for lead in its water supplies. Studies of the residents’ health during the crisis found an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases, fetal deaths due to all causes, and a reduction in fertility. A different study did not find the water to have been a cause of an increase in stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
An article by the Mayo Clinic [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/lead-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20354717] notes, “Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.
“Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and soil. Adults who work with batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops also might be exposed to lead.”
The Mayo Clinic article gives an extensive list of problems caused by lead in the body, and the unborn and newborn are particularly susceptible. Usual sources of lead poisoning are related to lead-based paints or lead pipes in older homes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [https://www.cdc. gov/nceh/lead/default.htm] indicates there is no safe level of lead in the body, though it has a target of reducing it to below 10 micrograms per deciliter in blood.
At the start of 2019, the new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, signed an order requiring prompt public notification of such harmful environmental conditions in the future.
At the same time, the performance of the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality (MDEQ) was criticized as inadequate and
WATER CRISIS, FLINT, MICHIGAN, 2014-2019
even racist [https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2019/ 01/04/flint-pipe-replacement-mayor/2242666002/] by Paul Mohai, a University of Michigan professor; in this article written by Pamela Pugh, chief public health advisor for the City of Flint, Michigan, it notes that some commenters have maintained that the citizens of Flint, a largely minority community, were not given adequate notice and remedy for the problem caused by the water-source switch, largely done for relatively minor cost reductions. Pugh finished her piece in the January 4, 2019, Detroit Free Press, this way: “As a new administration takes over our state’s government, it is a chance for that government to shift from a place of paternalism and austerity and become a government that listens to, understands and interacts with its distressed communities, a government that recognizes the necessity of a recovery and rebuilding approach that is Flint-driven and solely motivated by making Flint whole.”
The crisis underscored the importance of clean, safe drinking water supplies.
or at DWC's amazon.com author's book title list https://www.amazon.com/s?k=douglas+winslow+cooper&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss