5 Disconcerting Facts About The Flint Michigan Water Crisis

5 Disconcerting Facts About The Flint Michigan Water Crisis

Despite clear evidence of contamination, officials continued to provide Flint Michigan with impure water.

On April 24th, 2014 Flint Michigan Officials changed their city's water supply from a Detroit based exchange to the Flint River. From this point on, citizens have been complaining about the quality of their drinking water. Many claimed that their water smelled like sulfur. As the problems worsened, people from the community began attending city hall meetings and events with jugs of brown chalky water. Despite clear evidence of the water being unfit for public consumption, city officials refused to acknowledge the issue plaguing Flint until late 2015. In the past week, emails from state officials have been released that shed further light onto the events of the past year and a half.

1. The decision to change water supply was driven by financial, not health, concerns.

The driving force of Flint's change from Detroit based water to the Flint river was money. The city officials were worried with the rising price of water from Detroit. As with many American cities, Flint was financially unstable and this rising price would have continued to affect the city's budget. From this perspective, the change in water supply is understandable. What is disturbing is that the city officials allegedly had reason to believe the Flint River was less than ideal for consumption. Efforts to create a pipeline to Lake Huron, a better alternative for water, would take until 2016. So the officials new that this change was their least viable for water, but proceeded regardless. What is worrying is that the officials knowingly provided this water to citizens. Decision making based on financial factors rather than pubic health concerns lead to the issue Flint is currently plagued with. Unfortunately, it was the residents of Flint that suffered from this irresponsible change.

2. Evidence was provided almost immediately after the switch to the Flint River.

The first signs of the water being unclean was its smell. Residents began to complain that their water smelled like eggs all the way back in 2014. This smell is indicative of high levels of sulfur. As if that wasn't enough of a problem, residents began having brownish water pour from their faucets in their homes. Outraged by this apparent contamination, citizens began bringing jugs of the disgusting water to city hall meetings. As public outrage continued, city officials released "boil before consumption" ordinances. These warnings demonstrate that the city's officials knew the potential risks of the water they were providing citizens. It is completely unfathomable that officials continued to deny the critiques of residents after such apparent evidence was brought before them on a multitude of occasions. As this crisis continues to unfold, it will be interesting how many, if any, officials resign.

3. Officials belittling the opinions and criticisms of citizens.

In the same vein as the previous point, City officials immediately began talking down the concerns of citizens. Lampooning several early protesters as being oversensitive, officials continued to state that the water was safe. The could not, however, continue to blindly to shoot down citizens' complaints as the problem grew. Rather than addressing the clear issue of the river itself, the powers at be blamed aging pipes for the discoloration of the water. The "boil before consumption" solution was a short term way to assuage the fears of residents. Worried parents claiming that the water was unsafe for consumption were childishly mocked in the emails that surfaced this Wednesday. Yet, these emails contained information that implied the entire water supply contained high levels of lead as well as specific examples of citizens with lead poisoning. Parents were viewed as overzealous and overcautious for not wanting to have their children drink this lead filled water. Elected and appointed officials seemed to not be working with and for their residents, but around them. President Obama weighed in by stating this entire situation was "inexcusable" and will be providing $80 million dollars for Flint to repair its water infrastructure. At least some legislators care about public health.

4. What do residents do in the meantime?

Being that the tap water in Flint is undrinkable, the local government is providing bottled water for citizens. Despite the $80 million allocated to fix this issue, there is the concern of the interim period. Are they going to continue to provide bottled water for the entirety of this process? This crisis has been raging for nearly 2 years, yet it is only just now getting media attention. These citizens have been denied a necessity for this extensive time period and still have long to wait before clean water is provided in their homes. Another glaring issue is lead poisoning. Will the city officials be providing health care to the populace they have poisoned? Despite the solutions beginning to unfold, the citizens still have a painstaking wait for this damage to be undone.

5. Could similar issues be present in other American cities?

How did this crisis occur for nearly 2 years and stay dormant on the national stage until recently? It is not as if there was a lack of protest from the people of Flint. If such a major problem like lead poisoning could fly under the radar for so long, how are we to know that the water quality of other American cities is safe for consumption. Will this massively needed overhaul to the city's water infrastructure start a wave of other cities following suite? For now maybe the best option is to buy a water filter in your house. If you have elected officials similar to those in Flint, you need to monitor the safety of your drinking water because, clearly, they will not be.

Cover Image Credit: CI News Now

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As A Muslim American, My Trip To Jerusalem Revealed That Open-Mindedness Bridges Communities

A life changing trip that opened my eyes up to the optimal dynamics in a community.


On Dec. 21, my parents and I flew to Amman, a city in the beautiful country of Jordan, where we took a cab to the main part of Jerusalem. We were told by multiple family friends that it is not the safest to directly fly into Jerusalem because of the religious issues and riots going on. As we entered Jerusalem, I put my hijab on. A hijab is a head covering worn to cover a women's beauty in Islam. As I put my hijab on to pay respect to Mosque Aqsa, I noticed a change in perspective from everyone around me because suddenly, there were eyes from everywhere on me — Muslim and Jewish.

After we paid respect to Mosque Aqsa, we went to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted from our 14 hour flight. The next morning, we woke up bright and early to begin our day by praying at Mosque Aqsa. I wore traditional American clothes, jeans and a top, because it was often worn in Jerusalem, though I kept a hijab on for prayer.

After praying, I was astonished by the gathering of all the Muslim people in the mosque area. This made me want to see the Wailing Wall and the place of the first church to view how others gather for their god. I knew the Wailing Wall was sacred because it was a prayer and pilgrimage place for Jewish people, while for Christians, Jesus was born inside the first church.

As we exited the mosque community, we found a kind man at the kiosk who gave us pomegranate and mangoes. My dad decided to ask this gentleman directions to the Wailing Wall. The man began screaming at me and my dad. He told us we are not allowed to even want to view the wall of the Jewish people. I responded and explained that we just want another perspective on other religions. The man yelled even louder. He told us that the Jewish people would convert us and that we should not leave the Mosque surroundings. With this, he furiously sat back down and did not give us any directions to the wall that was right behind this mosque. My dad and I were quite confused on what had just happened and the way our question for simple directions were handled.

We decided to walk along the sidewalk until we found someone to help us out. It was a 61-year-old man who seemed to be a Jewish person with his religious hat. He happily helped us out and gave us exact directions for the Wailing Wall, though he did say he was excited new people wanted to convert to his religion.

We followed his directions and successfully reached the Wailing Wall. There were gates at the Wailing Wall that had security checks that allowed people to enter as there were at the mosque. Although, the experience entering the wall and mosque was not the same. As a muslim woman wearing a hijab, I was able to walk through the mosque without anyone questioning me, I was easily able to walk in without questions asked.

At the wall, a security guard first made my family go through metal detectors, checked our passports and asked an immense amount of questions about why we wanted to go see the Wailing Wall if we were Muslim. Finally, after various obstacles and issues, we made it into the Wailing Wall.

As I experienced such obstacles, I thought about how different the community in Jerusalem was from the United States. It doesn't matter what group, each religion in Jerusalem was highly conservative. This is quite different from the United States.

The culture in the United States is significantly diverse, which allows the people here to be open minded. As an everyday routine, Americans interact with people of various religions and cultures that they don't question or change their perspective toward a certain race. Yes, there are always racist citizens who are not comfortable with other religions, but a majority of the United States depicts unity because of how culturally different every person is.

This is not how Jerusalem is seen. Religions are significantly segregated with one another through security check, restaurants, hotels and even streets. Every religion has their streets in Jerusalem and going to the one you are not a part of can result in awkward stares along with rude treatment.

As I had previously booked a hotel before arriving to Jerusalem, we were not aware that the street we booked was on the street of the Jewish people. This wasn't a major issue, but glares and different treatment were conveyed. As my parents and I would eat breakfast in the lounge, we would often get glares for the hijab or clothing we were wearing because it was different from everyone else around us. This was quite disturbing because every day we would go inside the hotel or leave and get glares that clearly depicted that we weren't wanted in this hotel. The hotel workers were indefinitely kind and caring at all times, though the people living there were not.

The experience I had was definitely an eye-opening lesson. It depicted the perspective of others in America versus Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem are not open-minded, which detaches the various religious groups in the nation. It prevents various religions to connect or be able to create united communities to be able to act as one.

As for the United States, there are different religions and cultures blended together with majority of the people who are open-minded. This allows the union of communities, while also allowing people to connect without the similarity of religion. I'm glad that I was able to have a once in a lifetime experience with my family. Although the segregation in the country was a little uncomfortable, I am glad that I was able to understand how lucky I am to live in an open, happy and united country and that I am also able to learn about the significance of open-mindedness in uniting people and communities.

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