One thousand, four hundred and sixty-two days. The people of Flint, Mich., have been without clean water in their pipes for 1,462 days.
The Flint water crisis began on April 25, 2014. When city business was being overseen by a state emergency manager, the decision was made to switch the city’s water source from the Detroit water system to the Flint River. It was done as a cost-cutting measure.
Later that summer, residents in the city began complaining about a foul odor in the water, as well as side effects they experienced after drinking and bathing in it.
In August and September of 2014, residents were warned to boil water before using it after E. coli and coliform bacteria were found in the water supply. In October, General Motors stopped using Flint’s water because it corroded engine parts.
By January 2015, residents were being told that the water contained high levels of byproducts from water-disinfectant chemicals—chemicals known to cause kidney, liver and nervous system damage. Sick and elderly people were especially at risk, but the residents were told that the water was otherwise safe to consume.
Later that same month, Detroit offered to reconnect Flint to its water system at no cost, but the emergency manager at the time rejected that offer.
By September 2015, it had been determined that Flint’s water was 19 times more corrosive than Detroit tap water, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha went public with her findings that children under the age of 5 in Flint had elevated levels of lead in their blood. A lead warning was issued, but residents were still told that the water was OK for consumption and use.
It wasn’t until January 2016 that the governor of Michigan declared a state of emergency and actually acknowledged that there was a problem with the water. Residents were then advised to use only bottled or filtered water.
Since then, numerous studies and tests of Flint’s water system have been conducted.
The state recently ended its water-distribution program, claiming that the water is now up to federal standards and therefore OK for consumption and use. This runs contrary to an Environmental Protection Agency warning that the mass replacement of lead pipes and service lines in the city could result in more lead being leached into the water system.
The residents of Flint still do not have clean water. They have been lied to, overlooked, tossed aside and disregarded.
This is environmental racism right here in the United States. And it is still not over.
One thousand, four hundred and sixty-two days after the water switch was made, the people of Flint still do not have clean water in their pipes.