The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has so far led to deaths and illnesses that could have been prevented. Emails from local officials and poor planning by others have revealed a lack of civic leadership and a decision-making process that relied more on dollar signs than on the concern for public welfare.
In April 2014, Flint cut off its water supply from Lake Huron in Detroit and began running their water from the Flint River. According to CNN, 87 Flint residents became sick and nine of them died due to lead that resided within their water system.
It’s a terrible tragedy when someone’s life is taken because of a mistake made by the very people who are in place to protect them. It becomes worse after the Detroit Free Press reported that this event could have been prevented if the water plant hadn’t been rushed into operation.
Since the crisis, parts of the country have held out a helping hand to the residents of Flint. According to cnycentral.com, members of People’s A.M.E. Zion Church as well as other volunteers collected water from Central New York and brought it to Flint to donate to residents in need.
Emails released from the governor’s office provide intel to the township from Mike Glasgow, who was the plant’s laboratory and water quality supervisor. According to these emails, it seems that the township of Flint didn’t take the correct precautions when switching water sources, which should be handled as a crime against the people residing within the city.
“If water is distributed from this plant in the next couple weeks, it will be against my direction,” Gasgow wrote in an email. “I need time to adequately train additional staff and to update our monitoring plans before I will feel we are ready. I will reiterate this to management above me, but they seem to have their own agenda.”
Gasgow made a point within the emails that his superiors were planning to tap the Flint river water immediately. He sent these emails to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality official Mike Prysby to urge the town to hold off. Unfortunately, the town ignored his thoughts.
These emails prove that the crisis within Flint could have been prevented. For Prysby to ignore emails that urged warning from none other than the man who was hired to supervise Flint’s water quality is ridiculous. Prysby, as well as Dayne Walling, the mayor of Flint at the time, need to provide not only those affected by the crisis but the entire country, with answers.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Gasgow wrote these emails on April 17, 2014, which was eight days before Flint held a ceremony to mark the day they began using water from their own river.
Almost immediately after the town began receiving their water from the Flint river, residents began complaining about the smell, taste and color of the water. A local news station in Flint, WNEM-TV put Walling to the test by asking him to drink a cup of Flint’s tap water while on live television.
“It’s your standard tap water. You can taste a little bit of the chlorine,” Walling said after sipping the water on July 9, 2015.
After residents were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, water tests found that the water didn’t have enough phosphates or some other kind of corrosion control, according to the Detroit Free Press. Without anything to control the corrosion, the water ate through the protective coating of the lead pipes and allowed unsafe amounts of lead to flow with the poisoned water into a number of Flint homes.
The water crisis resulted in the deaths of those who had families and friends, and to know that one town made this mistake should worry the entire country. This kind of mistake can’t happen when so many civilians are relying on the leader’s of their city to protect them. If these emails prove anything, it’s that there needs to be a further watch on all of those who lead this country’s small and large governments.