Flint Michigan Water Contamination Issue

One example of the failure of local authorities to access, test, monitor, and distribute safe drinking water to its community is the case in the city of Flint, Michigan U.S.A.

Several months before September 2014, Flint sourced its city water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). Flint’s water authority decided to source its drinking water from the Flint River, even though they were not prepared enough to undertake this switch.

Corrosion control was to be a part of the water treatment process, as mandated by the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)—but authorities decided to delay that process until later.

Soon after the Flint Water Treatment Plant (FWTP) started serving the community with water, the people noticed something wrong with the color, taste, and smell of the water distributed to their homes.

The unpreparedness, lack of urgency, and poor management processes resulted in e-coli and other contaminants such as Total trihalomethanes or TTHMs (a disinfection by-product) in the water. More to that, the corrosiveness of the drinking water leached lead from the water pipes and plumbing fixtures.

In January 2015, Flint officials announced to the community that water distributed to their homes contained high levels of trihalomethanes, the by-product of a disinfectant used to treat the water. Such contaminated water can cause liver, kidney, and nervous system problems.

Exposure to lead, especially for children, causes low IQ, shortened attention span, and increases in violence and antisocial behavior. It can adversely affect body organs, such as the reproductive organs. The effects are irreversible.

In July of 2015, reports were out that blood tests from the children in Flint had very high amounts of lead. Further independent tests were conducted, and many samples confirmed that lead was present in the water and was higher than the acceptable limits.

The Flint Michigan Water Pollution case is an ongoing one. There is an investigation going on and soon, there will be recommendations on what needs to be done to make the water safe for drinking again.

Source: Flint Water Advisory Task Force Final Report, March 21, 2016