Everyone should have fresh clean water available to them and most definitely everyone in the USA. We’ve all heard drought stories about Texas and California, but no one in Michigan, The Great Lakes State, should never not have access to fresh water. So let’s discuss this a little because being a Michigander I’m a little pissed off over the whole Flint and lead in the water issue.
The state of Michigan is made up of two peninsulas both surrounded by fresh water. These are huge lakes, but Michigan is also home to many inland water ways. Go 5 miles in any direction and you’re surrounded by water, freshwater. This is a true claim.
Hold that thought for a moment if you will and let me explain the piping a little. The USA’s piping infastructure is WAY out of date. This includes water lines, gas lines and any other line that has been used to transport utility needs to the masses.
When I worked as a service manager in a plumbing and heating business, before I had kids (1989 to 1993), lead soldered joints were a problem, and as plumbing was updated or removed new pipes without lead solder were installed as replacement. As pipes get old they corrode and when they do it lets parts and pieces (debris) from the pipes through the water. Some of these particles you can see and some you can’t. If you’ve ever seen a home with rusty water, its pipes are probably breaking down.
NOW, not all fresh water is the same. Fresh water is made up of different natural minerals and some of those hurt your plumbing more than others. For instance where I live up north we have a lot of lime in our water, and the lime causes a mineral build up in our faucets, water heaters and pipes. This build up causes leaks and replace those items often.
When the people of Flint decided to use the water from the Flint River instead of the Detroit River the minerals in the water were not the same, hence causing a break down in the antiquated Flint piping. I’m not privy to where the break down is/was or whether it’s limited to certain homes (many of which are old), but as the water goes through these old pipes and hits the lead solder joints it breaks it down and flushes it into the home water systems. Lead is not only absorbed when you ingest it, it’s absorbed through the skin. Meaning, the people of Flint are getting toxic levels of lead not only through drinking water but washing water as well.
So who’s fault is this problem? Well, it depends where you want to point fingers but the starting point would be those that originally installed the piping systems probably a hundred years ago, and many other cities are probably ticking time bombs. This means if you are on a public water system pre 1986 you might want check your own water.
Before I jump into why people should be mad, let me say this isn’t a race issue and I’m tired of the race card. This is a MONEY issue and whether you are black, white, green or BLUE if you live in an area with pipes that are old and carrying water you are at risk.
Now, listen up because this is where the outrage begins. When the water was switched in 2014 almost immediately people started complaining about the smell and taste of the water. Not long after the switch, GM stopped using the water saying it was rusting the car parts. In September 2015 a group of doctors alerted the public that they should stop using the Flint River for drinking water because they were finding high levels of lead in the blood of children. The state regulators insist the water is safe. <—This is where accountability needs to start. WHO were/are the regulators?
A week later still in September, Governor Snyder says the state will spend $1 Million to buy water filters for the water in Flint public schools. STOP! Hello! To me this is an acknowledgement that there is something wrong and red flags should be raised. A month later $9.4 Million is approved by the State to aid Flint into switching the drinking water back to Detroit. (Here’s the thing though, it will still be in the same pipes that have already begun to breakdown)
The fall out continues in a down slide from here. At the end of December Rick Snyder accepts the resignation of the Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and the director apologizes??!!
This month Gov. Snyder declares Flint a state of emergency and confirms they’re investigating and launches the National Guard. Now officials are reporting an increase in Legionnaires Disease in the last two years.
This is not a matter of black and white but a matter of financial means. When people *cough* Clinton stand there and say this wouldn’t have happened in the wealthier “white” outlying areas she can pound sand. It wouldn’t happen in a wealthier areas PERIOD because the people would have the money to fix the problems and probably have been maintaining their equipment better because drum roll please……………they have the money to do so.
However, this can and will probably happen again in any city. States don’t have the money to really fix and fix properly this problem. What is the answer? Another pipeline is in the process and has been in the works for a while that will pump water from Lake Huron to Flint. The piping will be new, but it will still be pumping into old homes with old plumbing. The answer is to replace all the piping and this will cost a lot of money. Money the citizens of Flint don’t have, money the State of Michigan doesn’t have.
So I ask you, how do we fix this not only for Flint but for future generations?