Being on a water-boil advisory due to low water pressure has had residents of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes on edge. For the first few days, many stores either were sold out or had limited quantities of safe water.
The public was advised to use bottled or boiled water for brushing their teeth and cleansing wounds, as well as most other daily tasks.
“For most of the time we were under water boil advisory I was working, so it had little effect on me other than I had to drink bottled water,” said Johnny Clement, a senior film major. “But when I was home, it was highly inconvenient to have to rinse dishes in cold or room temperature boiled water.”
While some had to deal with the added hassle of getting busted pipes fixed, for the most part, the New Orleans Metro Area has been pretty lucky. Our water advisory was due to extreme weather, not foul play. But others around the country are not so lucky. In April 2014, Flint, Michigan switched from the Detroit Water System to the Flint River to save money. What was supposed to be a temporary solution has devastating lasting effects.
As if the smell of the water and complaints about hair loss weren’t enough to get people’s attention, something worse was discovered: doctors found lead in children. This was caused by a corrosive chemical in the river water that ate away the lining of the lead piping which had previously kept the city’s water drinkable. The city did not have the water tested, and the mistake turned into a disaster that affected the population of Flint. This article merely scratches the surface on the situation – it is far worse than I can describe.
Cassandra Jaskiewicz, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan and entertainment editor of the Driftwood, commented on the frustrations many faced during the crisis. “The Flint Water Crisis was never close enough to truly affect me, as we were living about two hours away, but in the beginning it was speculated that it would soon affect us anyway,” said Jaskiewicz.
Despite not having direct contact with the crisis, she faced the anxiety her neighboring communities faced. “I did not have any personal ties to people in Flint…but the desperation for water was crazy and something I thought I would never see in my country,” continued Jaskiewicz.
Flint’s City Council still refuses to approve the 30-year contract to use the Detroit regional water system. Despite the ability to find a cheaper source that is still reliable, the damage has been done. This three-year long incident has already cost the city more than $20 million. And the kicker? Switching to the local river for a water supply was only projected to save $1-2 million each year.
In early January 2015, the water was deemed safe for use despite containing disinfectant byproducts. However, the elderly, youths and sickly people were urged to consult with doctors, and ultimately had to take precautions.
In 2017, a lawsuit filed on behalf of the citizens of Flint went to court, where plaintiffs plead their case, asking for compensation in the form of education, medical monitoring and future evaluation of the water. However, the judges dismissed the chance of penalties for Snyder, Michigan’s Governor, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They argued that the 11th amendment gives the state government and Snyder the immunity against being legally pursued by the public individuals.
“I would be angry and upset if I were in that situation. I’d feel as though the city didn’t care about my health, well-being, or time–that I was merely an inconvenience to be around,” said Clement.
Most residents still use bottled water to brush their teeth.
“I was so livid when Rick Snyder seemed to give a lot of vague answers and promises about fixing the water, but it went on forever; new cases of children suffering from lead poisoning were constantly coming up.”
According to Fox News, as of Nov. 3,, 2017 only 25 percent of the city’s piping had been replaced.
What we should be asking ourselves and each other is: why doesn’t the government care enough to give Flint clean water? #flintlivesmatter