Flint, Michigan is in a State of Financial Emergency. A major change that Emergency Manager Darnell Earley made in April of 2014 was the transition of Flint’s drinking water source. The water is now being drawn from the Flint River until a new pipeline is finished in 2016. Previously, the city purchased their water from the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage. They got their water that way for 50 years. The new pipeline to Lake Huron will be contracted through the Karegnondi Water Authority. There has yet to be a report that shows how the new pipeline will be more cost effective. It is estimated that Flint is saving 12 million dollars from making the switch to using water from the river. The problem with this quick money saving solution is the quality of the water.
In January 2015, Governor Snyder appointed a new emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose. Ambrose has only stated that he plans on hiring a water consultant, to assess the problem that Flint faces with water quality.
The Department of Environmental Quality has generated a notice of violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act for maximum contaminant levels for trinalomethanes (TTHM). Trinalomethanes is a group of four chemicals that are a byproduct of disinfecting water. This past summer there were 3 boil water advisories within a 22-day period due to fecal coliform bacteria in the water. The residents have reported that their tap water comes out brown, cloudy, or foul smelling. They are in fear that the water is dangerous to consume; therefore many buy bottles of water to avoid drinking the tap water. Not only are the resident’s skeptical of the quality of water but this past October even the General Motors engine plant refused to use the Flint water. They reported that it was due to high chloride levels that may cause corrosion on the parts.
This problem is not going unnoticed, Gov. Rick Snyder awarded Flint $2 million from the state’s Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships Grant Program to find leaks in the city’s water lines and to replace a wastewater incinerator. This is a first step in the right direction but it is estimated that the Flint water plant and distribution systems need $50 million in upgrades.
The average monthly water bill for a resident in Flint is currently $140. It is the highest rate in Genesee County by at least $35 more per month, and the community pays this high rate to receive a product that is subpar. Some residents have moved to the outskirts of the city to avoid paying high rates for inferior water. Flint needs to not only keep their existent population but also make it appealing to increase their population.
Citizens have asked the city to reconnect to the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage supply until the new pipeline is finished. The response to the proposition is that there would be a $4 million reconnection fee and then a monthly rate of $900,000. The city does not have the funding to make that happen. Ambrose and others hope that hiring a water consultant will help improve the process of filtration of the river water and get it to standard.
Michigan state Representative Sheldon Neeley (D, Flint) has promised, “I will continue our fight, as long as it takes, to make sure people have clean and safe drinking water. As we continue to support water improvement for the residents of Flint, there is no question quality of life is a number one priority.”
Adams, D. (2014, June 27). Flint monthly water and sewer bills highest in Genesee County by $35. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/06/post_386.html
Brewer, J. (2015, January 12). Drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan -. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/12/flin-j12.html
Flint Legislators Issue Statement on City of Flint Water Quality. (2015, January 20). Retrieved March 26, 2015, from http://www.housedems.com/article/flint-legislators-issue-statement-city-flint-water-quality
Fonger, R. (2015, January 17). City warns of potential health risks after Flint water tests revealed too much disinfection byproduct. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/01/flint_water_has_high_disinfect.html
Fonger, R. (2015, January 30). Mayor, governor have 'long, productive' talk about Flint's water problems. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/01/discussion_heating_up_on_state.html
Fonger, R. (2015, February 4). Governor awards Flint $2 million for troubled water system; Mayor says more is needed. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/02/governor_awards_flint_2_millio.htmFonger, R. (2015, February 5). Flint pastors tell state officials: Get us off Flint River water now. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/02/flint_pastors_tell_state_offic.html
Lorenz, J. (n.d.). Recent Tests Show Flint Water within EPA Guidelines – City of Flint. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://cityofflint.com/?p=6610