Flinty Hearts Break

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The Flint River derives its now negatively connoted moniker from the Ojibwe word Biiwaanagoonh-ziibi, meaning “Flinty River.” Indeed, the flinty (obdurate) hearts of city officials are borderline criminal in successive, unmitigated failure to respond to emergency.
Deliberation for long-term water supply began years before the gradual 2014 incident. A 2011 docket prepared for Mayor of Flint Dayne Walling reveals details of such posterior plans. Three alternatives arose: Flint could either maintain the single pipeline connection from the Detroit Water Supply, create a new duct from Lake Huron, or switch completely to the Flint River. In 2012, through 2013, the mayor approved and readied development for alternative two, an efficient decision and cost-effective measure that did not directly take from Detroit nor change the water supply completely. However, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department reputed the arrangement to be harmful to the city of Detroit for various reasons; the DWSD would then terminate affiliation with Flint in one year. As prophesied, Flint changed to a seemingly last resort supply from the Flint River to save $5 million over a two-year period.
Annual snowfall in Flint Michigan peaks at fifty inches, yet overuse of deicing methods is the accepted base of problems for the river. Rock salt in the form of chloride combined with any alkali metals increases incidence of over-chlorinated runoff into the Flint River. Supplementary chlorine was utilized in response to E Coli infestations in the pipes. The Detroit supply had eight times less chloride ions within the water. These ions are chemically corrosive to metals such as the lead piping that leads to residents of Flint. Let it be established that any level of lead corrosion and exposure is cause for concern; the EPA recommends changes if exposure exceeds fifteen parts-per-billion (ppb). For comparison, Detroit averages 2.3 ppb, excellent for the most densely populated city in the state. Recently, Flint approximations have ventured upward of 25 ppb; let us stop at the highest sample recorded at 13,000 ppb, considered toxic waste. These numbers completely neglect the Lead and Copper Rule associated with the Safe Water Drinking Act. The problem is so oddly geographically isolated that closely neighboring cities are not affected. 41.5% of residents are below the poverty line, so relocation is often not an option. The impact is a macabre narrative: children exposed have stopped growing and gained blindness. Some have perished at the hands of Legionnaires’ disease. The City of Flint 2014 Annual Water Quality Report in turn tells a fallacious narrative. They report two samples to be over action level and respond “no” to any lead violations. Water collectors used multiple techniques in attaining desired results: residents were asked to flush out (leaded) water before sampling, along with omitting extreme data results that greatly affected the mean ppb concentrations. As of 2015, Flint Emergency director Jerry Ambrose fully believed Flint water to meet EPA standards.
Urgent political ramifications ensued: local, state, and federal states of emergency have been declared only as of December 2015 and January 2016. As many celebrated the New Year, leaders finally saw the dire strains of the situation. After President Obama granted $5 million in relief, Governor Rick Snyder planned to dedicate $360 million for Flint ($195 million for the emergency; $165 million for infrastructure; $25 million for replacing rusted pipes). His apologies were much too late.
Currently, Flint has the seventh largest population among Michigan cities at 100,000 inhabitants. This number halved from approximately 200,000 in 1960 and dipped 18% since 2010. It is reasonable to argue that deindustrialization is a major cause for the Flint Water crisis. In fact, had the automotive industry not collapsed as a result of a 2008 economic recession, the crisis may have been averted with a larger population and larger revenue due to increased taxation and more representation per capita. Also recently, General Motors refused Flint River water because it corroded auto parts. If unbelievably lucrative corporations refuse this water, citizens cannot help but understand the magnitude of the situation. Flint officials did not recognize that children would be corroded like the auto parts. These simple problems could have been fixed for the last half-century in constant allocation of renewed infrastructure. Further, correct and retrospective water testing could have proved economical in the end. By attempting to save $5 million in two years, Flint officials must pay a burden in facing the people and a possible 80 times more in cash. The value of neglect in a modern and evermore capitalistic America is avoidably high.