Over two years ago in April of 2014, city and state officials of Flint, Michigan, decided to switch to a cheaper alternative water source: the Flint River. The water, however, was not treated immediately and consequently led to the corrosion of city pipes.
In December of the same year, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency due to elevated concentrations of lead in the city’s water. In the subsequent months, the Flint water crisis made national headlines, with President Obama declaring a state of emergency and 2016 Democratic primary candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders visiting Flint.
This Wednesday, Sept. 14, Republican candidate Donald Trump plans to tour the Flint Water Treatment Plant.
Currently, according to Detroit Free Press, “A top EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] official warns Flint should expect to use filters for drinking tap water through at least the end of the year. Officials say they have no timeline for return to safe water without filters.”
There is a pipe replacement plan ongoing in Flint and as of last week, according to ABC12, “50 homes have new service lines. [Retired Brigadier General Michael McDaniel, the man behind the pipe replacement strategy] says they want to do 10 to 12 homes per week.” The first 30 homes showed an overall decrease in lead concentrations after the replacement.
However, data analyses conducted by the University of Michigan on The Conversation last week suggest that “these service lines may not be the major driver of the lead in Flint’s drinking water,” meaning that the dangerously elevated levels are probably caused instead by other factors.
Policymakers have yet to shift their focus and efforts to addressing the other possible sources of lead. Mayor Weaver plans on visiting Washington D.C. to request for more funding to end the water crisis, according to ABC12.
Residents of Flint are provided access to free bottles of water, water filters, replacement cartridges, and home water testing kits provided by the state government in the meantime.