By Kori Wiggins
It’s been almost four years since the crisis in Flint, Michigan, that left residents’ drinking water dangerous for consumption. This crisis first began on March 22, 2012, when Genesee County announced the designing of a new pipeline to deliver water from Lake Huron to Lake Flint, with hopes that the switch would reduce cost on water.
It wasn’t until Aug. 14, 2014, that the city would receive their first boil water advisory after detecting fecal coliform bacterium in their water supply. On Oct. 1, 2014, The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a governor’s briefing paper outlining causes for the contamination issue.
However, the city has made progress. The city of Flint switched from their corrosive water supply back to Detroit’s water supply and have received tens of millions of dollars towards recovery, replacing 30,000 lead pipes from the city.
However, this does not mean the water is safe to consume without a filter. A working group has been tasked with monitoring the city’s water supply, which includes local, state and federal agencies.
According to a TIME interview with Marc Edwards, Virginia tech environmental engineer who first confirmed the water’s lead levels, the water supply today is likely safer than before.
“Tests of more than 150 homes around Flint have shown that a vast majority of residences are below federal limits on lead and copper and that bacteria levels are also dramatically lower than they were a year ago,” said Edwards.
Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette has filed 48 charges against 13 state and local officials who played a role in the crisis.
“For $200 a day, had the leadership put phosphate in the water as an anti-corrosive, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Schuette in an interview with TIME. He also refers to this as “the biggest investigation in terms of criminal activity in Michigan’s history, at least in modern history.”
Mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, has also pledged to dig up and replace the city’s toxic service lines but has only replaced about 700 of these pipes, attributing the reason to inclement weather and lack of state funding. Officials say that it could take three years until an overhaul approaches.
During a town hall meeting regarding the crisis, the mayor of Flint, as well as officials, informed residents of the discouraging facts. Among those facts was the need of over $100 million in upgrades.
Flint can be assisted by donating to official organizations working towards the relief of Flint residents such as, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Genesee United Way and the American Red Cross. For more information visit helpforflint.com.