Flint Michigan Water Crisis Still Making The News, 4 Years Later

Most of us remember the horrifying water crisis in Flint Michigan regarding lead contamination.

The issue dates all the way back to April 2014, and yet it’s still making headlines in the news.

2 announcements came in the last month alone.

Flint residents finally obtained the green light to proceed with their class-action lawsuits.

But shortly after that one step forward, they had another step back.

Flint residents also got told they will no longer be receiving free bottled water.

Yet many Flint residents still don’t trust that the water supply is safe.

Supreme Court Gives Citizens a Voice

In the aftermath of the water crisis, Flint received presidential visits, millions of dollars in donations and government aid. It was the subject of medical studies and a Netflix series. But little had changed for the residents in seeking justice.

Now, nearly 4 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing two class-action lawsuits filed by Flint residents to proceed.

The residents are pursuing civil rights suits against local and state officials over the lead contamination in the city’s water supply.

Previously, a lower court threw out the lawsuits. But then the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the litigation prior to the Supreme Court decision.

The high court rejected appeals by the city of Flint and other water officials.

Involuntary Manslaughter Charges

In mid-2017, six current and former state and Flint officials were charged for their roles in the water contamination crisis.

Five of them were charged with involuntary manslaughter. That’s because the issue was also linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that resulted in at least 12 deaths.

Lawyers representing one of the Flint residents had this to say about the Supreme Court decision:

“(It) signals that the State of Michigan and all of its cronies are reaching the end of the line in their ongoing efforts to avoid being held accountable.”

Free Bottled Water Ending in Flint

Since the time the Flint water crisis became known, the state has been offering Flint residents complementary bottled water.

But not any longer. The state announced earlier this month that there is no need for it, since that the city water has been declared safe.

Many Flint residents are upset about this decision. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich also expressed his anger:

“It’s beyond belief that the governor expects the folks in Flint to trust the government now (regarding water safety) when they lied to our faces about lead in our water just a few years ago,” he said.

“That trust was broken and families in Flint still don’t feel that the water in their homes is safe to drink.”

Melissa Mays is an activist from the Flint group called “Water You Fighting For.” She says that skin rashes from tap water are a continuing issue.

Why This is So Disturbing

The reason this is so disturbing is that Flint still has lead or galvanized steel lines that remain in the city. The plan is to replace all affected lines by 2020. But an estimated 12,000 could still remain.

So although the state officials claim the water supply is meeting federal standards, it can still pick up lead when it flows through those lines.

Mayor Karen Weaver expressed her frustration about the situation: “This is not what I want for our city,” she said. “I stand by my position that free bottled water should be provided to the people of Flint until the last-known lead-tainted pipe has been replaced.”

Lead Stays in Our Bodies

Lead contamination in water has been well publicized in Flint. But it could be happening in many other places as well.

Reuters recently published a study looking into childhood lead poisoning rates. They found 3800 communities in the US with levels more than double those found in Flint, Michigan. And that was comparing to the peak of the Flint water contamination.

And between 10 and 20 percent of our exposure to lead comes from contaminated water. This is according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lead stays in the body and builds up over time. So even if the levels of lead contamination in water are very low, they can add up.

Lead can enter your house through pipes, faucets and fittings. Even through the solder that holds everything together.

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