By Chiqui Perez
Despite the outpour of aid by concerned citizens all over the United States, the people of Flint still continue to face one problem after another amid the deadly water crisis. It appears that new problems surface as each day passes.
Firstly, the water filters which officials have handed out to the residents and businesses in Flint were not especially designed to handle water with extremely high toxicity levels. The New York Daily News even came to conclude that the filters are simply not working, as these are only of consumer-grade and NOT industrial grade.
Such filters could treat water with up to 150 parts of lead per billion. However, after testing about 4,000 sites which began in the last week of December, 26 sites have exceeded the amount of lead far from the capabilities of these water filters. According to the EPA, the safe limit of lead in water is at 15 parts per billion. The 26 sites, on the other hand, tested at a range from 153 parts per billion an alarming 4,000 parts per billion. Not only are the lead levels of these sites far too toxic for any form of consumption, there is a probability that only industrial-grade water filters will be able to do the job.
Even then, the New York Daily News continues that, “many people are saying… that it could be that the entire water system in Flint is damaged beyond repair. It may need to be ripped out and completely rebuilt.”
In the meantime, federal officials and Governor Rick Snyder himself still encourages the residents of Flint to obtain testing kits which “are free of charge at the water resource sites within Flint fire stations” to have water in their homes tested even after filtering. Pregnant women and children under 6 years old, officials add, would need to rely on bottled water.
Despite switching back to Detroit’s water source and away from the infamously polluted Flint river, the city’s water pipes remain coated with toxic elements. On top of these weighty concerns, the people of Flint—largely a black community and living in poverty—could only face more challenges.
The second problem lies in the documents which have been discovered and released by Progress Michigan, a Liberal body which has been highly critical of Governor Snyder and his administration.
These documents comprise a number of emails and a notice which have been exchanged between the Department of Technology Management and Budget (DTMB) and Snyder administration officials.
The notice, effective on January 17, 2015 was issued a good nine months prior to Governor Snyder’s acknowledgement of the dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water. Before then, the Snyder administration had assured the Flint residents that the water from taps was safe, and there was nothing to worry about. The notice reveals a response of the DTMB with regards to “violations to the drinking water standards” which have been forwarded by Flint city officials.
The document further exposes that the Snyder administration had already known of the lead contamination in Flint’s water supply long before the emergency declaration. According to U.S. Uncut, the Snyder administration may even have buried the test results on lead contamination in the summer of 2015. Furthermore, the Atlantic reports that calls for comment to Snyder’s office about the release of these documents were not immediately attended to.
This is a very puzzling situation as RTLive relays that Governor Snyder has apologized to the residents of Flint. He has also claimed responsibility to the crisis. As a result, he recently signed a state aid package of $28 million into law, aiming for general relief as the amount would pay for bottled water, faucet filters, testing kits and medical treatments for those whose health have been compromised due to lead poisoning.
“Mistakes were made. We’re going to solve them,” declared the Republican Governor before he signed the aid legislation.
When asked on Friday about the January 2015 clean bottled water deliveries, Snyder replied that he “had no knowledge of that taking place,” NBC Washington reports.
How believable is the Snyder administration at this point? Snyder and his administration continue to be heavily criticized by many, accompanied with efforts, perhaps in vain, to have him step down or recalled from office.
Flint residents continue to bear great hardships, along with their children suffering from the various effects of lead poisoning, ranging from rashes to permanent brain damage. However, these problems, so far, are figuratively and momentarily solved by a cover of Band-Aid and duct tape, and steps to nip the same problems at the bud seem to be going at a snail’s pace.
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