January 9, 2016

Flint water crisis

Wenonah Hauter. Food & Water Watch -  Recent revelations that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration knew about severe water quality problems in Flint, Michigan and assured residents there that the water was safe are an unconscionable violation of the human right to water.

In 2014, Flint’s emergency manager disconnected the city from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and started providing residents with water from the Flint River. Unfortunately, the proper corrosion controls were not put in place, which resulted in lead leaching into Flint’s drinking water, poisoning residents for over a year.

To make matters worse the Snyder administration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ignored the people of Flint for months as they reported issues with their tap water. Worst of all, despite knowing that there was a problem with lead, the state kept telling residents that the water was safe to drink.

The city now must replace thousands of lead water pipes, and its residents face a lifetime of healthcare costs. This is the very definition of a man-made, intentional, public health crisis.

Michigan’s water problems are not limited to Flint. Highland Park and Detroit have also had problems ensuring residents access to safe, affordable water. Emergency management, an underhanded process created by the state legislature against the wishes of voters to allow the governor to virtually take over a city, has exacerbated many of their water woes.

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