Residents of the American city of Flint, Michigan, have taken to social media to vent their anger on city authorities for deceiving them about the safeness of running water in the city.
According to residents, despite the overwhelming evidence that their water has been contaminated with lead, city authorities continued to urge them that there was nothing wrong with it.
BBC reports that the city’s water became contaminated after a change in supplier in 2014. Corrosive water leached lead from old pipes into the water supply. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in the city.
However, Obama’s actions have yet to solve the situation. Residents are demanding that the state’s governor, Rick Snyder, be arrested and prosecuted for his handling of the crisis. Governor Snyder had requested $31m from the federal government. He said the need in the city (population of almost 100,000) far exceeds the state’s capability, and sought a disaster declaration.
According to the local media, President Obama denied the request because such declarations are only made for natural disasters.
— Judy Stone (@DrJudyStone) January 9, 2016
According to the Washington Post, in December 2015, a state task force found that city authorities had violated rules requiring that they treat water to avoid the pipe corrosion problems that helped make the water toxic. A team of researchers who exposed the lead contamination in the city, have also said they believe city authorities knew about the health threat of the water, but did nothing to protect the citizens from it. Residents therefore believe that the crisis is a result of human failure, and are angry about the situation.
It is said the city switched its water source from the city of Detroit to the Flint River in 2014. Soon after the switch, residents started suspecting the contamination due to the color and the smell of the water. Residents then started complaining about the water. It is said some residents reported headaches and rashes after using the water from the city’s new supplier. All these reports were lodged with city authorities, but the city authorities told residents that there was nothing wrong with the water.
It wasn’t until October 2015, that testing of the water in the city revealed increased lead levels in water supplies, and in children’s blood. According to heath experts, lead exposure can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.
Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette has said he will investigate the water crisis to see whether any state laws were violated.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials have announced that Flint and its surrounding areas have recorded cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires disease is a bacterial infection that can be deadly for between 5 to 30 percent of those who contract it. So far, 10 residents are now known to have died from the disease. The bacteria causing Legionnaires is said to dwell in warm water like that found in fountains, hot tubs, the cooling towers of large buildings and, sometimes, plumbing systems.
The Washington Post reports that the head of the Virginia Tech Research Team, Marc Edwards—who helped expose the lead contamination in Flint—said there was a very strong likelihood that the new water supply in the city is linked to the increased rate of the disease.
“Our hypothesis is that something about the Flint River and lack of corrosion control, plus big buildings, is creating these problems,” he said.
— Mark Elliott (@markmobility) January 14, 2016
Meanwhile, the American singer and actress, Cher has announced that she would donate some 180,000 bottle of water to Flint residents to help alleviate the suffering they are going through.
“This is a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it’s happening in the middle of our country,” she said.