Six years ago, officials in Flint, Michigan made a budget decision. City officials do this type of thing every day.
But this particular decision turned out to be deadly. It’s a decision that came back to haunt them and their city.
They decided in April of 2014 to make a change. Instead of continuing to provide Flint residents with water through the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, they’d pump in water from the Flint River.
This resulted in lead leaching from pipes into the water servicing homes and businesses. As a result, some 12,000 children and many more adults were exposed to dangerous levels of lead. At least a dozen people died.
Are Improvements Enough?
Over the past few years, 85 percent of the water pipes in Flint have been replaced. And 25,000 service lines have been inspected.
Tests show that water quality in most neighborhoods is acceptable for drinking. But residents are still leery.
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those Flint residents may sue the government.
Flint government officials had been claiming “qualified immunity” to protect themselves from lawsuits. But the Supreme Court tossed that shield out the window.
A History of Contamination
In retrospect, it’s difficult to believe anyone could have thought pumping water from the Flint River into homes, schools and businesses was a good idea.
For more than a century, places had been dumping waste into the river. Including car factories and meatpacking plants. Plus lumber mills and paper mills.
In addition, the city’s waste treatment plant dumped raw sewage there. Also entering the river was agricultural runoff. And toxins from leaching landfills.
It was so bad that rumors circulated about the Flint River catching on fire more than once.
Flint officials failed to ensure water from the Flint River was properly treated. But they insisted the water was safe to drink.
In 2015, Virginia Tech University researchers studied the issue. They took water samples from 252 homes.
Nearly 17 percent of the samples registered above the federal “action level” for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). More than 40 percent of the samples registered at over 5 ppb.
Dr. Marc Edwards was a research team member. He said, “The (lead) levels we have seen in Flint are some of the worst I have seen in more than 25 years working in the field.”
Lead Levels Double in Kids
For the next 18 months, complaints poured in from Flint residents. They said their tap water was discolored. And that it smelled bad and tasted strange.
They also reported skin rashes and hair loss. As time went on, other groups tested the water. It was confirmed that it contained dangerous levels of lead.
Far more horrifying to parents than bad-tasting water and skin rashes was this. The lead levels in children’s blood were found to be double or triple what they had been.
That’s when panic and anger kicked in. Lead can cause serious health problems for adults. It can also produce lower IQ, affect physical growth and cause behavioral problems in children. The damage is difficult to reverse and can last a lifetime.
Criminal Charges Filed
In 2017, a settlement was reached. It required the city to replace thousands of lead pipes carrying water to residences.
There were signs the situation was improving for many Flint citizens. From July 2016 to June 2018, testing showed lead levels below the federal action level.
Meantime, 15 city officials were charged with criminal responsibility. For causing or contributing to the crisis.
Among those was the director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. And the state’s chief medical executive.
‘They Knew What Was in That Water’
Now Flint residents have an open door to seek damages for the city’s contaminated drinking water. Thanks to the Supreme Court decision.
Some 30,000 Flint residents have filed lawsuits. One of them is Margaret Wesley. She blames the drinking water switch for her adult daughter’s death.
“They knew,” she said of government officials. “I’ll go to my grave believing they knew what was in that water.”
Summing up the frustration, Flint resident Claire McClinton said this. “The people in Flint, in terms of justice, holding people accountable and compensation… we are batting zero.”
A Safeguard Against Lead
Of course, the problem of lead in water is not confined to Flint. Between 2015 and 2018, approximately 5.5 million Americans received their water from systems exceeding the federal lead action level.
The fact is, it’s becoming more and more clear that the government is not able to protect your family when it comes to the water supply.
You must take matters into your own hands if you want to ensure your family always has safe, clean water to drink.
That’s why I’m excited to tell you about a revolutionary new water pitcher: the Patriot Pure Water Pitcher.
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It gives you all the convenience of a water pitcher that fits directly in your fridge. Yet it can filter out truly scary stuff that other pitcher brands fall short on removing.
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