Through the Cracks

The story of Flint’s water crisis has been ongoing since 2014 when the city’s water source was changed in an effort to save money. Residents began complaining that the water was causing health issues. Despite this, government officials did little to prevent these issues from continuing. Flint has gained attention for its water issues in the past, but still, almost no concrete, long-term action has been taken to help the residents. Now, with news of the Coronavirus dominating popular journalism, Flint has slipped through the cracks once again. 

“I definitely feel like [the Coronavirus] has dominated all the conversations in the news.” said Sophomore Jieanna Southern. “It’s all I hear about.” 

After the source of the city’s water was changed from Detroit to the Flint River, the city’s water crisis began. This river has been an unofficial waste dump sight for factory waste, agricultural runoff, and raw sewage. Residents have said that the discolored, ill-tasting, and lead-poisoned water causes skin rashes and hair loss. Still, government officials have done close to nothing to fix these problems. Residents also pay extremely high water bills for the undrinkable tap water. 

“I don’t even water my plants with it,” said Flint resident Gina Luster in an interview with The Guardian

Most residents don’t dare to use the water and are forced to resort to bottled water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. However, mere hours away in Evart, Michigan, clean creeks run through the small town as Nestle pumps water, nearly 100,000 times more than residents of Flint use. Nestle says that they provide bottled water to Flint, but how can that makeup for taking advantage of a natural resource the community so desperately needs?

“You shouldn’t be able to profit off of water – it’s free. It came out of the ground.” Luster added in the same interview.

Flint switched back to Detroit as their water supplier in fall 2015. Unfortunately, the corrosion from the Flint River water has done irreversible damage to the water pipes throughout the city, meaning that the water is still undrinkable. Lead levels in the water have improved, but scientists say that the water still cannot be consumed without the use of a filter. Until change is made, residents will still be forced to drink from water bottles. The future is still uncertain for Flint, and they can only hope that their story will not slip through the cracks once again.