Four years ago, an emergency manager appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder made the executive decision to switch the City of Flint’s water source from treated water from Detroit to untreated water in the Flint River.
The decision was supposed to save the city money and help balance the books, but ultimately the switch proved costlier, not only in dollars and cents, but in lives. Within months, Flint’s residents complained about the smell, taste and appearance of the water, but to no avail.
And despite how much the Snyder administration boasts about the amount of money it has poured into Flint, there is still much work that remains, with no clear plan of action from elected officials:
- The emergency manager law, which Snyder’s own Flint review team said needed to be amended or ended, has yet to see either;
- Best estimates from Flint-area residents are that only a third of the lead pipes have been replaced;
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not amended the Lead and Copper Rule that allowed dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s water to continue;
- The state Department of Environmental Quality accepted public comments until about a month ago on changing the Lead and Copper Rule itself – more than two years after the Flint water crisis began making national headlines;
- Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged numerous officials allegedly linked to the crisis but not a single case has actually resulted in jail or prison time for those charged; and
- The Snyder administration has ended bottled water for Flint despite outcry from Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and residents.
“There is still a long road ahead to recovery. That road is not made any easier by an administration that wants to declare Flint ‘fixed’ but has failed to lower the action level for lead and has walked away from its moral obligations to provide clean water until every corroded pipe is replaced,” Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said of the anniversary.
Ananich also said his work isn’t done until there is trust in the water and the pipes that carry it throughout Flint, as well as trust that Flint’s children will have “all the healthcare and education services they need to mitigate the effects of lead exposure.”