The people who live in the city of Flint, Michigan have been through a lot in the last few the years; including extreme poverty and being labeled the most dangerous city in America. This latest crisis, however, is the worst to have ever hit the city that was once thought to be synonymous with the American dream.
There was a time when Flint was the place to live and people flocked from all over the United States to live and work there. Sadly, within a few decades there was a decline in opportunities and the once strong workforce dwindled down to just about 10% of what it used to be.
Since the early 2000s the city has been under the burden of a debt of close to $30 million. The city was assigned an emergency manager to help them get out of debt. Having an emergency manager eliminates democracy and elected officials lose their power.
In 2013, Flint signed an agreement to join the KWA, Karegnondi Water Authority, which is a group that helps give cities more power over the costs and the water. At the time in which this agreement was signed, Flint had been paying huge sums of money to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The DWSD is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. It was determined that the switch was a much-needed change and it was agreed that KWA would build a pipeline from Lake Huron directly to Flint.
A few months later, a new emergency manager took over and made some decisions that started a chain reaction. The fifty-year contract with DWSD was terminated even though the new pipeline would take at least three years to be built. Hence, Flint was in need of a temporary water source that would supply the city’s needs during the construction.
In 2014 it was decided to use The Flint River in the mean time. Within hours, residents noticed the changes in their water that ranged from the smell to the taste.
A few months down the line the health department advised that water needed to be boiled for consumption due to harmless bacteria found in the pipes. Later that same year General Motors, the biggest consumer, decided to stop using Flint’s water to make cars and instead brought in an external source. This decision enraged residents because if the water wasn’t good enough to make cars, how could it be good enough for human consumption?
A notice informing of dangerous levels of TTHM was the last straw that sent the residents to the streets to demand their rights to clean water. What happened next?