Michigan’s Water Crisis Continues
by Alexandre Vachon
Flint, Michigan is a small post-industrial city constituted of approximately 100,000 residents. Unfortunately, the city has been plagued with toxic water, rendering President Obama to declare the city, and the surrounding county, a state of emergency on January 16th, 2016 (NY Times).
The city, on April 25th, 2014, switched its water supply from Detroit Waters to the Flint River for economic reasons (NY Times & Washington Post). Shortly after, residents of the city started filing complaints against the odour and colour of the water. However, the city officials and the state officials issued that the water was safe to use.
Several investigations followed in the next year. Detroit Waters also offered the reconnection of the water lines with Flint, at a cost of four-million dollars, but the city’s state appointed emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose, declined the offer (NY Times). The plan had been to use Flint River until 2016 while a pipeline to Lake Huron was to be built. By October 2015, Flint had switched back to Detroit Waters. However, on December 14th, 2015 Flint declares itself to be in a state of emergency; by January 5th, 2016 the governor of Michigan, Republican Rick Snyder, declared the Geneese County a state of emergency (NY Times).
The governor received critics from both Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders, who called for Snyder’s resignation, and Hilary Clinton, who believed the state’s responses throughout the crisis to be “unconscionable” (The Guardian). The problem with the water is its high level of lead; the proportion of infants and children with high levels of lead doubled since the use of Flint River (The Washington Post). President Obama allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide five-million dollar to aid the city (NY Times).