It’s been just over two years since Flint, Michigan changed its water source from Detroit’s main city water originating in Lake Huron, to water from the Flint River - and things are getting ugly in the state investigation to hold people accountable.
The head of the Michigan Attorney General’s investigation into the Flint water crisis is threatening to take state agencies to court to force them to turn over documents.
Todd Flood has been driving Attorney General Bill Schuette's examination concerning Flint's lead-corrupted water since January 2016.
The probe has as of now brought about criminal allegations against three government authorities. A claim has also been filed against organizations that went about as advisors to the city amid the change from Detroit water to the Flint River.
Yet, when asked whether state agencies are giving him all the records he's asked for to date, Flood's answer was a unequivocal "No."
"In any case, you can bet every last cent, I'm going to get all the records," Flood told reporters in Flint today.
"In the event that I need to use whatever tools I have to utilize, I will get all the reports." Flood says he's prepared to take any state agency and official, "Governor included," to court.
More On The Flint Water Crisis
Since the crisis began, the country has been horrified to witness a small city not only lose all access to safe drinking water, but to see their residents and thousands of children exposed to lead poisoning from the contaminated water that was subsequently piped into Flint. One year later, Flint has become a political talking point, used in campaigns as a strategy. But the city and its residents are so much more than a talking point. Here’s an update on what’s happening on the ground in Flint, Michigan right now.
The Water is Still Contaminated, and Will Be for Some Time
The main progress that has been made in Flint is that the government officials have finally admitted there was a problem. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to declare the crisis the result of a despicable cover-up. Currently, three government officials have been charged with criminal wrongdoing in relation to the crisis.
And while it’s important that the perpetrators who caused the problem are brought to justice, this won’t make the water any cleaner. Unfortunately, it is not a simple fix to get clean drinking water to Flint. The other deterrent to progress is knowing how far the problem extends. It’s not a matter of just switching back to the Detroit city water, as it turns out this is a systemic problem that exists in the smaller city’s service pipes. In other words, there are several hundreds of miles of pipes below the ground that are only ever going to deliver poisoned water. While the Flint River itself needs a cleanup, the residents of Flint won’t be able to get clean water to their homes until all of those problem pipes are located, dug up and replaced.
To what extent it was government corruption or ineptitude that led to the current crisis, both aren’t helping matters. There were no reliable city records kept of where the pipes run, or which ones are lead. While some of the pipes are safe in and of themselves, so long as they aren’t connected to contaminated pipes, there is no way to know which pipes are OK to keep until they are dug up and tested from the inside.
Pets Are Suffering Too
The residents of Flint are continuing to live under enormously difficult circumstances. While 2015 saw the people of Flint charged with some of the highest water bills in the country for poisonous water, there has been some relief on the rate of water charges. Nonetheless, people still live with the daily fear of the impact of the water on their children’s safety and wondering whether its safe to bathe in tap water. And more recently a new anxiety has surfaced, as people are testing their pets for lead exposure.
The Politics Are Far From Over, Locally and Nationally
Meanwhile, so much of what is happening in Flint is being played out in politics at all levels. On the local level, it’s looking like there is still not an end to the corruption with a lawsuit having been filed against Flint’s mayor about misallocation of relief funds. On the state level, Michigan's Governor, Rick Snyder has included $195 million in the budget to be dedicated to Flint.
Just a few weeks ago, on May 4, President Obama visited Flint and drank a glass of filtered Flint water. While many, including Michael Moore, criticized Obama for putting a safe stamp on the water, the president did also urge the residents to have their children tested for lead and emphasized that the crisis had been both manmade and avoidable. Despite Obama’s drinking a glass of water, it is certain that Flint has a long way to go before they’ll be able to take the basic necessity of clean water for granted. Hopefully the president’s visit will further increase awareness of the plight of the city.
It’s Going to Take More than the Government to Fix This
Government failures played a huge part in creating this mess, and it's going to take more than the government to fix this. At the start of this month, Google offered $250,000 in grants for the city to help figure out the real story of what's going on. Volunteers are working to help clean up the Flint River, as in order to truly solve the problem the water must be cleaned at both its source and throughout its entire delivery system. And individuals from the owner of the Detroit Pistons to inmates at Michigan prisons, have all pledged to donate money.
There's a heartening story to take from how much people have contributed to help in the face of this tragedy of poisoned water, but in addition to hoping we can work together to fix this, we also hope that in the future, we'll all work harder to prevent such a worse case scenario of contaminated water from ever happening again.
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