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For more than 1,000 days residents of Flint, Michigan have been struggling through a water emergency. The impact has brought serious health problems and left nearly 100,000 people with an undrinkable water supply.
The crisis first appeared in April 2014, when the midwestern state switched the source of the city’s water supply. The new source was extremely corrosive to the city’s aging lead pipes, causing high levels of the toxic metal to leak in the supply.
But things are changing. On January 24th, Michigan state environmental officials announced the lead levels in Flint are now 12 parts per billion, slightly below the acceptable federal limit of 15 parts per billion. However, residents whose mistrust of the government remains high, are still being told to use faucet filters and bottled water as the ongoing replacement of pipelines could cause lead levels to spike again.
And there may be added political turmoil. Since the crisis began, the state has been subsidising the water bills of Flint residents. But the announcement regarding the drop in toxic levels may mean the financial credit stops. In addition, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order freezing all new Environmental Protection Agency grants and contracts. Michigan lawmakers are now wondering if the $120 million grant approved by the US Congress to replace the water infrastructure is in jeopardy.
We discuss the impact of President Trump’s executive order, the latest water conditions in Flint, and how residents can begin to trust their government again.
In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Congressman Dan Kildee @dankildee
U.S. Representative for Michigan's 5th congressional district
Yanna Lambrinidou @DrishtiEthics
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech
Melissa Mays @FlintGate
Founder, Water You Fighting For
Yvonne Lewis @YlewisE
Founder, National Center for African American Health Consciousness
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.