Despite Persisting Dirty Water, MI Ending Free Bottled Water For Flint

“I don't trust the filter, I don't trust the water. Everything that me and my kids do from cooking to boiling their water for a bath, we're using bottled water, I do not trust anything.”

After the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan, many citizens of the predominately black city still continue to face basic water needs. However, despite the water woes, the state announced it will no longer provide free bottled water to the residents.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently made the announcement and said laboratory tests have shown water quality of the water in the state is “well within standards” and lead levels are also below the federal limit.

The governor further said the state would be shutting down distribution centers, which were set up in 2016 for residents to secure free bottled water.

“For the past two years I have repeatedly been asked when I would declare the water safe in Flint and I have always said that no arbitrary decision would be made — that we would let the science take us to that conclusion,” Snyder said.

He added, “Since Flint’s water is now well within the standards set by the federal government, we will now focus even more of our efforts on continuing with the health, education and economic development assistance needed to help move Flint forward. We have worked diligently to restore the water quality and the scientific data now proves the water system is stable and the need for bottled water has ended.”

However, many criticized the move.

Karen Weaver, Flint’s mayor, said she wasn't included in decision-making and learned of the move just moments before the decision was made public.

“We did not cause the man-made water disaster, therefore adequate resources should continue being provided until the problem is fixed and all the lead and galvanized pipes have been replaced,” she said.

Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha also shared the same views.

“This is wrong. Until all lead pipes are replaced, state should make available bottled water and filters to Flint residents,” she said.

Residents of Flint also don’t believe the water in now safe for drinking and the decision has sent a wave of panic among them as they now heavily rely on bottled water.

As soon as the announcement was made, residents flocked to distribution centers to get hold of the last available batches of bottled water. The free bottle program was initiated in 2016 and was part of a $450 million state and federal aid package.

"I don't trust the filter, I don't trust the water. Everything that me and my kids do from cooking to boiling their water for a bath, we're using bottled water, I do not trust anything,” said resident Ariana Hawk.

Joyce Wilson, 62, said, “This weekend the lines are so long, it’s unreal. It’s like all of a sudden, panic has set in.”

Although the current water supply in the city meets federal safety standards, the water is exposed to lead as it passes through lead pipes and until and unless all pipes are replaced, the danger is still there.

The affected lines are expected to be replaced by 2020.

Flint, with a population of about 100,000, was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 when it switched its water source from Detroit's municipal system to the Flint River to save money.

The river water was more corrosive than the Detroit systems, and caused more lead to leach from its aging pipes. Lead can be toxic, and children are especially vulnerable. The crisis has prompted lawsuits by parents who say their children have shown dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.



Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Jim Young

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