More than two years have passed since the water contamination problems in Flint, Michigan, first came to light. From neurotoxins to high lead levels, this drinking water issue will surely become a mandatory topic of research for college students who are pursuing a masters of in emergency management or even an environmental law degree.
With thousands of children exposed to dangerous lead levels, the Flint water crisis has been cited of an example of how poor city management can lead to a series of catastrophic failures. There will be time to find the culprits and assign blame, but what is being done to alleviate this situation is more important. Here are three ongoing responses to this crisis and what they have done to help.
Emergency Drinking Water
News about the treacherous water contamination in Flint turned critical days before Christmas 2015. The initial response was adequate, just providing bottled water safe for consumption. The massive water bottling industry of the United States proved to be very useful in this regard. As of mid-2016, massive bottled water supplies are still on standby in case they are needed in Flint.
Restoring Drinking Water Back to Normal
Public works departments and water management experts from across Michigan have set up shop in Flint since the 2015 holiday season. After providing bottled water, engineers recommended an immediate installation of water filters in all residential communities, and cisterna trucks rolled in so that water line remediation could get started. Sources of contamination were located and contained at the reservoir level, and corrosion control plans are being executed to ensure that the problem does not flare up in the future. Right before summer vacation ended, the lead levels in Flint were finally meeting federal standards, and 250 water lines were scheduled for replacement.
Water bills are routinely discussed by the U.S. Congress but are seldom subject to the scrutiny that the Flint crisis has incited. The dollar amount of the water projects being reviewed at the Senate surpasses the $9 billion mark. In previous Congressional sessions, federal funding packages were subject to partisan politics but that is not the case now, since both Democrats and Republicans want to pass this measure, which will grant $100 million to Flint immediately. The Water Resources Development Act was expected to pass without compromise by mid-September.
In the end, the Flint water crisis has been a sobering reminder of the need to pay more attention to water management and public resources. The federal and local governments have scrambled to find a solution and we still have a ways until we see the light at the end of the tunnel for this crisis.