Flint Michigan Water Contamination Issue

One good example of the failure of local authorities to source, test, monitor, and distribute safe drinking water to its community is the case in the city of Flint Michigan in USA.

Several months prior to September 2014, Flint sourced its city water from 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 major 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 on that process until later.

Soon after the Flint Water Treatment Plant (FWTP) started serving the community with water, the people noticed something wrong about 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 plumbing fixtures.

In January 2015, Flint officials announced to the community that water distributed to their homes contained high levels of trihalomethanes, the byproduct of a disinfectant used to treat the water. Drinking 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 major organs of the body such as the reproductive organ. 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 of the samples confirmed that lead was present in the water, and were extremely higher that 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