Flint’s water crisis, explained in 3 minutes
The images of the water are shocking enough. And then come the headlines: An American city failed to provide basic protections to its citizens, and now the children of Flint have
much higher than normal levels of lead in their blood. Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan has apologized. President Obama declared a national emergency starting to weigh in. CLINTON: “The governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care.” Lead poisoning is terrible and terrifying. No amount of exposure is safe. There’s evidence that years after we
got it out of paint, gas, and more, it contributed to a drastic drop in crime in the 90s. The city has switched back to cleaner water,
but the effects will last decades. We take clean water for granted. How could
this possibly happen in 2016? You’ve got to rewind back to 2011. Flint was broke. It had lost about half
of its population after the car factories closed. closed. It had $1.1 billion in unfunded pension costs.
It had to cut half its police force. These managers can make cost-cutting measures without the normal political procedure. They decided the city could save money on
water. Flint would stop buying water from Detroit and join a new regional water system. And as a temporary measure, Flint would use water from the Flint River. The switch happened in 2014. 2014. But regardless of blame, the story gets worse. Residents saw and tasted the dirty water, and started complaining. But regardless of blame, the story gets worse.
Residents started complaining, but the city MAN: “Water’s brown, has a bad odor. I’m afraid to even feed it to my cat or to my dogs.” WOMAN: “We should not have to pay for the water, it’s nasty.” But the city claimed federal tests showed the water was safe. An employee at the Environmental Protection
Agency leaked a Michigan report to local activists which showed the water had higher than normal lead levels. The city’s response? Flint told the woman the lead came from her plumbing. It took an outside investigation by Virginia Tech researchers that found elevated lead levels in the water for the state to admit there was a problem in September 2015. EDWARDS: “So the corrosion’s eating up the pipes, it’s eating up the iron pipes. It’s causing main breaks, discolored water. And in about 20 percent of the homes, there’s just too much lead.” In October 2015 the government bought water
filters for its citizens and switched back to water from Detroit. Before all this, 2.1 percent of the city’s children had high blood lead levels. After, it was 4 percent. For kids under 5 in the most affected zip
codes, it was 6.3 percent. Why did Flint poison its citizenry? Under
emergency managers from the state, it wanted to save money. To reverse the affects will cost dearly. Just switching
back to Detroit’s water cost $12 million. A class action lawsuit against the city is pending.