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Three Years Without Clean Water:
How Flint Michigan Has Been Surviving

More by Liliana Cullen - 5/17


lint, Michigan has been without clean water since 2014. Since the decision of getting water from the Flint River, rather than Lake Huron was made three years ago, the water has been contaminated with coliform bacteria, and lead. As a result, the citizens of Flint were instructed to buy bottled water to bathe, cook, and clean with. Change is slow for Flint.

The state of Michigan took over Flint’s finances in 2011 after an audit caused a $25 million deficit. Flint’s water supply fund was $9 million in debt, however, officials were using that money to cover shortfalls in its general fund. A receivership ended in April 2015, when they were able to pay off their debt, and the remaining deficit was eliminated by an emergency loan.

In order to reduce the water fund deficiency, the city switched water sources in 2014. While a new pipeline connecting Flint with Lake Huron was under construction, the city turned to the Flint River as a water source during the two-year transition. (“Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts” CNN).

The Flint River has a history of being polluted. According to the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “Flint River Assessment”, the water was severely degraded during the 1970s due to the

presence of fecal coliform bacteria, low dissolved oxygen, plant nutrients, oils and toxic substances

These contaminations are not easy to get rid of, and even after the cleanup of 134 polluted sites in the Flint River watershed in 2001, it was not enough.

In March of this year, the EPA gave Flint $100 million for water infrastructure upgrades, and no more than two weeks later, the state agreed to cover the cost of replacing water lines for at least 18,000 Flint homes by 2020.

Although this is money will benefit thousands, those thousands must wait another three years for clean water. They have struggled for two grueling years already, so how are they expected to wait for another three? It is truly ridiculous that in 2017, in America, thousands of people do not have clean water.

Protests occur often in Flint, from the group Flint Rising which advocates for justice for the residents of Flint affected by the water crisis. On February 10, Flint Rising organized a protest to after the city declared they would no longer pay for Detroit water, and get rid of bill credits altogether by March 1. Their goal was to

raise awareness for high water bills and shut off threats” (MLive).

They were rallying because residents are tired of paying for the contaminated water they cannot, and will not use. Within the past week, citizens of Flint face foreclosure if they do not pay their water bills, even though they do not use the contaminated water. They refuse to pay for the water that could be giving them and their children illnesses. Protests have begun in the streets, hoping to change these unjust laws.

However, there are ways to help locally. According to the Huffington Post, there are 5 things you can do:

  1. Donate to the people bringing clean water to Flint families
    1. There is a Flint Water Fund where 100% of the proceeds go to buying filters and bottled water for the residents of Flint.


    1. Support the researchers keeping the public informed

      1. There is a Flint Water Study being conducted by an independent research team at Virginia Tech. These volunteers study Flint’s tap water, and inform residents of lead levels and other important information. To support the Flint Water Study, donate to their GoFundMe campaign.


    1. Fund the organizations supporting critical public health services
      1. The Community Foundation of Greater Flint is asking for nationwide donations to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund. These funds will go to public health, medical and community-based services.


    1. If you live in or near Flint, you can bring cash and water directly to those who are helping. Since Darien is 700 miles away from Flint, having family members nearby can be beneficial to make donations.


    1. If you would rather not give money, you can call Governor Snyder to help residents.
      1. The people of Michigan have been signing a petition on Change.org, demanding that Governor Snyder stop making Flint residents pay for the contaminated water. Each month, residents of Flint receive a water bill at an average of $140 for water that is contaminated with lead and could be detrimental to not only their health, but their children’s health.

Whether you make a donation to the Flint Water Fund or sign a petition, anything can help to give the residents the clean water they need.

AP Environmental Science has given junior, Colleen Brereton, an insight on this issue.

“Flint, Michigan is currently experiencing an environmental and social crisis of extreme severity. Lead is a neurotoxin, as I have learned in APES, and can cause lifelong effects. As an APES student, I've gained an entirely new perspective and am able to understand the social and environtmental spectrum of this atrocity”

Darien has its fair share of water problems as well. According to the Aquarion Water Company, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH)  has issued a second water supply emergency order in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford. In February of this year, the Greenwich system was about 68% full and the Stamford system was 61% full. These systems are usually 88% full this time of year. As a result of the drought, DPH has issued a sprinkler irrigation ban in these towns.

There are many ways to help, such as taking shorter showers, trying not to wash your car, or water large areas of land. Whether you make a donation to the Flint Water Fund or sign a petition, anything can help to give the residents the clean water they need.

If you would like to read more about the environment, click this link.