top of page

Don't Forget About Flint, Michigan.

Many environmental concerns plague our minds today, such as rapid decreases in biodiversity, climate change, and water pollution. As we continue to acknowledge these detrimental factors as human-made consequences, we also struggle to utilize sustainable methods and adapt such suggestions into our regular routines. That's why it's good to reminisce past historical events that have left a substantial impact on communities for a considerable amount of time. The long-lasting water crisis in Flint, Michigan, proves as a great example.

Once submerged in persistent environmental issues that negatively affected its citizens, Flint, Michigan's water crisis has fortunately resolved after five years of terror. In 2014, the city instituted its new water source from the Flint River without proper treatment, contaminating it with lead. This alternative was prioritized to save money for its 100,000 residents and was a temporary placement for its awaited connection to a new regional water system.

As soon as this happened, Flint inhabitants instantly filed complaints about the water's taste, smell, appearance. This change heightened health concerns and reports of rashes, hair loss, and related issues. Sadly, Flint officials insisted that the water system was safe after a year of protests until a group of doctors urged leaders to halt their reliance on the Flint River after discovering high lead levels in children's blood. Even after attempting to get more attention, state regulators stand their ground in stating that the water is safe.

After constant denial by the alleged leaders, Alas, the then Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder pledged to respond to the hazardous lead levels in the water. It's not until a while that any governmental awareness by the state that leads is the problem. Synder then announces that the state will spend $1 million on water filters and evaluate water in public schools. Only days later are there calls for the city to utilize their old water source from Detroit's system.

After there is finally some stimulation, Synder declares a state of emergency on the same day it's confirmed that he's under investigation by federal officials. A week later, the Michigan National Guard helped distribute bottled water and filters. Sydney then requests the Obama administration for a major disaster declaration and more access to federal aid. The White House posts an emergency declaration but not a disaster declaration. However, this declaration was only short-term.

This does not go without saying that Synder and his administration were under scrutiny. Not long after the crisis's initiation did Synder accept his resignation from the Department of Environmental Quality and apologized for the lack of direction and failure to recognize the water crisis as one. A governor-appointed panel concluded the state of Michigan as "fundamentally accountable" for the crisis because of decisions directed by environmental regulators.

The investigation direct charges against former emergency managers and state and official partners for evidence tampering and other crimes. However, all criminal charges were later dropped. The investigation was repeated with a new Solicotry General as "all present evidence was not pursued" by the previous prosecutor team. Luckily, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder, his health director, and other former officers were charged after the new investigation.

Many events occurred during these years, with the Michigan Supreme Court motivating affected members to proceed with a lawsuit against officials for the scandal, a vital procedural step in long-running litigation.

Not only was this an avoidable calamity, but it demonstrates another distressing expression of structural racism. Flint is an impoverished area with a predominately black population. It's also one of two cities in the entire country with city-wide levels of concentrated poverty. More impoverished neighborhoods acquire less tax base capacity to afford local government and support public services, which is a major contributing factor to the water crisis. It only increases the greatest needs and lowers possible advancements for their community. Due to the sudden exposure to contaminated water, it's expected that impacted individuals may be more likely to have intellectual and behavioral problems. These problems will only multiple amongst other generations as studies detected that lead positioning found in mothers is detectable in grandchildren.

Disinvestment has already vandalized this city. The water crisis is a tragic addition and an example of this generalized pattern of oppression and drawbacks. However, the situation has raised awareness for such ignored issues in which the state and local policies have considered individual life chances. The water problem was spectacularly resolved after it was reported that the lead levels were below the deal action level during specific monitoring periods from 2016 to 2018. However, some still minor issues remained, with some residents still utilizing the lead-infected pipes to get water. The EPA and other health authorities declared that there is no safe level of lead in water. So, the FAST Start program replaced the many lead and steel service lines that connect the water mains to city homes.


Today, the water is clean, but this crisis will not be forgotten in history. It's essential to keep such events in mind so we avoid repeating detrimental actions. We, as the people, are the ultimate power holders and have every initiative to protest against unjust change. Unfortunately, racism is a significant indicator of why responses to fix this issue were so slow. This article serves as a reminder that social and environmental issues go hand-in-hand and that it is possible to hold those responsible for the damage accountable. Justice was attained in this situation, and hopefully, nothing like this occurs again.

0 views0 comments
bottom of page