Everyone has heard about Flint in the news, catching headlines of a major water crisis. However, where is Flint and what is known about the city? Just why do they not have access to clean water?
Flint is 66 miles north of Detroit, the seventh largest city in Michigan. Sitting along Lake Huron, it is home to more than a hundred thousand people. Overseeing the state is Governor Rick Snyder. Elected back in January 2011, he has been governor for five years and this will be his sixth year in office. The water crisis started back in 2013, when the decision to form a new regional water system came to light. It was proposed that a new pipe should be built, giving the residents their own water district. City officials and councilmen went ahead and canceled the agreement with Detroit and opted no longer to connect the water pipes between the two cities. Instead, a new pipe would be built, 74 miles of five foot diameter pipes, and would connect residents to Lake Huron for the first time.
Looking to the future
These efforts were backed by long financial worries and concerns. Facing high water rates, residents would continue to have water bills averaging over a hundred dollars unless other options were considered. Although cheaper water rates are ideal and the perfect solution, construction for the new pipe was not set right away. Especially under harsh winter conditions, the project would take three years to complete and is not projected to be done until the summer of 2016. Now that it is 2016 and summer is months away, where are the pipes and when does the water get turned on?
While they wait, residents have been drinking local water from the Flint River. It has been proven disastrous, as the water is heavily contaminated, filled with lead poisoning, amoebas and other parasites. Early efforts to save 18 million over the next eight years is now costing upward of 28 million dollars. Newly-elected mayor Karen Weaver made history when she was elected back in November 2015 by being the first female mayor for Michigan. She says emergency efforts are not enough and too much damage has been done that can not be reversed. Governor Rick Snyder claims he is taking full responsibility. However, he has no plans to fix or replace the corroded, aging pipes Flint currently has. He has instead stationed fire departments to hand out water filters to everyone. In addition, state funding, upward of a million dollars, will be spent on providing bottled water, testing kits and increased medical attention an
d treatment. This effort is focused primarily on schools and the children.
Even if and when the water problems do finally get solved, Mayor Karen Weaver has big problems. Underlying the water crisis is an economy in decline, there is no tax base and the workforce is in major overhaul. Once thriving and an auto capital of the world that has since moved on, Flint is now a city almost forgotten. Maybe Flint got what they needed when they elected their first female mayor; maybe mayor Karen Weaver can continue to make history. Will there be a revival?