The Flint water crisis, precipitated by the Republican state government’s penny wise and pound foolish money “saving” strategy, has left behind years of damage not just to the city’s lead pipes, but to the lives of its residents. Now that a lawsuit brought by several organizations including the ACLU of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as Flint resident Melissa Mays, has been settled, there may be some progress towards making Flint whole again.
Flint’s ongoing water crisis and resulting third world status continues mostly (as yet) unabated, even though the 24-hour news cycle moved on long ago. The Flint water crisis, precipitated by the Republican state government’s penny wise and pound foolish money “saving” strategy, has left behind years of damage not just to the city’s lead pipes, but to the lives of its residents. Now that a lawsuit brought by several organizations including the ACLU of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as Flint resident Melissa Mays, has been settled, there may be a modicum of progress towards making Flint whole again.
The settlement brings into the foreground some actions that really should have been undertaken long ago. It mandates the replacement of 18,000 lead and galvanized steel service lines that the corrosive Flint River water damaged, causing lead to leach into residents’ drinking water. This key step is absolutely essential in order to provide long term water safety for Flint’s residents. Like everything, though, this comes at a cost. The settlement legally binds the State of Michigan to lay out $87 million to pay for the new lines along with an extra $10 million in case there are unexpected expenses, and aren’t there always? Remember, this $97 million is a cost that could have been avoided entirely if Flint’s emergency manager had decided to stick with water piped in from Detroit, like the residents wanted.
Also required by the settlement, the State must test the water before and after the service line replacements, as well as contract with a third party (approved by both sides) to test the water in 100 homes for three years afterward.
Flint residents unable or unwilling to drink their tap water have been dependent upon bottled water. Donations of bottled water flowed in while the crisis was making international headlines, but even though the outpouring has slowed or stopped, the need to drink water hasn’t. Unfortunately, the settlement allows the State to gradually close distribution points where Flint residents have been able to pick up cases of bottled water for their families. Not every Flint resident is able to pick up bottled water, whether it’s because their work hours don’t allow them to stop at the distribution centers while they’re open, or because they are disabled or don’t have appropriate transportation and can’t lug multiple 8-pound gallons of water however-many miles home. These folks have been able to have water delivered within 24 hours by calling an emergency number, but even these deliveries may cease if tests show the level of lead has been reduced below the federal action level of 15 ppb. You know, the level where the government says you can drink it, but it’s still not a good idea.
Michigan Politicians ADMIT Flint Water Not Safe W/ Filter, by TYT Politics
The State is expected to maintain a staff for education and outreach to make sure Flint residents know how to use their water filters and when to replace them. Hopefully the filters are useful for keeping the lead out of the drinking water for at least a month or three each, but they don’t work for water with a lot of lead or water that’s been heated, and maybe don’t even work at all. Also, Michigan will be required to maintain Medicaid expansion funding and certain nutrition programs for children and pregnant women through the year 2018. I’m sure this comes as a great relief for parents of children who will be affected for the rest of their lives with health problems and learning disabilities because they drank lead leached from pipes in order to save the State a few bucks.
Finally, the State of Michigan will pay almost $900,000 in legal fees to reimburse the plaintiffs for their counsel and expert witnesses. This comes on top of the $3.5 million worth of taxpayer money that Michigan’s Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, spent on criminal defense for himself. I wonder how many filters, bottles of water, and replacement service lines we could have bought with that chunk of change.