Story by Mayra Monroy, Editor-in-Chief
Photo courtesy of the National.org
April 2014 was the start of the problem for residents of Flint, Michigan. Due to a switch from Detroit’s Water and Sewage Department to the Flint River in getting their water, it became apparent that there was something wrong. The switch was made to save some money for the city, despite what the DWSD suggested, which offered a new structure to save the city’s money, but was denied by Flint. The project, led by Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), would develop a pipeline to draw water from Lake Huron.
Until the pipeline was to be completed, the city would have to get its water elsewhere. In this case, it would be from the Flint River, the backup water source of the city for years. Though this plan was signed off on, the water was not treated with chemicals to prevent the lead from leaching into the supply.
Almost immediately, there was an odor, distinct taste, and visible issue with the tap water that was flowing into the homes of over 100,000 residents. Soon, lead was detected in citizens who were bathing in the water, using it to drink, and for food. Along with these concerns, bacteria was detected in the water, causing several boil water advisories and illnesses. Businesses in Flint began noticing changes, including General Motors, who began to notice rust spots in their vehicles after production. The plant announced that it would no longer use the water from the Flint River.
The DWSD offered Flint another offer, advocating for connecting once again to solve the issues of water quality, but the City of Flint denies the offer.
As the problems continue and several officials call the situation “alarming,” residents of Flint began to get angry, calling out officials and sharing their stories and images of water coming out of their own tap and demanding the resignation of Governor Rick Snyder and other government officials.
In his most recent State of the State address, Snyder said, “We are praying for you, we are working hard for you and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis. To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before: I am sorry, and I will fix it.”
Another factor that has come into play has been the price of residents’ water bills, as they’re still being charged for water despite it having been poisoned by lead.
“If you can’t drink the water, you shouldn’t have to pay for it,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette.
In this time of crisis, national attention has been drawn to the City of Flint, with celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, Cher, P. Diddy, and others donating millions of bottled water to the city. Drives have taken place all over the country, collecting bottled, gallons, and monetary donations for the citizens of Flint. Locally, organizations such as Wood TV8 and Art Van Furniture are collecting donations.
Aquinas College held its own Flint Water Collection, part of Leadership Week. The community joined together through prayer and donation, collecting several gallons and packages of bottled water that will be donated to residents of the city.
“Aquinas just has so much heart and doing a water collection for our neighbors was a natural call to action,” said junior Kascha Sanor. “The community really came together for this and the amount of energy that it created was great! Not only did we physically donate to the immediate needs but I think a lot of conversations were started and awareness was raised around the structural causes of the crisis which is invaluable.”
The AQ drive collected an estimated 30 cases of water bottles and over 20 gallons of water for the cause.