The people of Flint, Mich., still do not have clean water in their taps, but what they do have is a three-and-a-half-year legacy of bureaucratic bullshit and red tape, lead poisoning, outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, sick babies and children, and a whole lot of back-and-forth between the city and the state over who is going to fix the various problems related to the crisis and how.
As you may recall, Flint’s water problems started in April 2014 when the city, then under state control, switched its water source from the city of Detroit to the Flint River. The untreated water from the river was highly corrosive and caused lead to leach into the city’s pipes, leading to contaminated tap water for the residents.
Many government officials of have been charged with crimes in the subsequent fallout, but the city is still without a permanent solution that provides an ongoing source of clean water for the people who live there. When the parties were unable to come to an agreement in June, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality filed a lawsuit against the city after the City Council refused to approve a long-term water contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, out of Detroit. The suit alleges that the city is endangering public health.
There are some helpful things happening in the meantime.
The Detroit News reports that on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Lawson appointed attorney Paul Monicatti to facilitate a mandatory mediation between the city of Flint and the DEQ to settle their differences over the future source of water for the city of Flint. This is a good thing, because the constant bickering is only causing further harm to the residents of the city. You know, those same people the state claims to be advocating for in its lawsuit.
Mayor Karen Weaver’s office told the Daily Progress that since March 2016, about 2,700 homes have had old water lines replaced through the FAST Start Initiative, a program with a goal of replacing nearly 20,000 lead-tained water lines in the city by the year 2020.
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Michigan State University, which received a four-year, $14.4 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Tuesday that it will be using the first installment of that grant to establish a registry of Flint residents who have been exposed to lead since the crisis began in 2014. It will use the $3.2 million to connect people to programs that can help minimize the health problems associated with lead exposure, which include effects on brain development in children.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it will forgive $20.7 million in water debt that the city of Flint incurred through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. WCRZ reports that Weaver issued a statement thanking the agency for forgiving the debt and saying, “We have come a long way, but there is still much more work that needs to be done. With help and support like this from federal, state as well as local entities, Flint will indeed bounce back.”
Too bad that help hasn’t come in the form of potable water dripping from the faucets.