Boil Advisory In Effect In Flint, Where Systemic Racism Helped Cause A Water Crisis

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Flint
Volunteers joined government personnel and charity workers to form Flint water response teams, delivering clean drinking water to residents during the Flint water crisis. Photo: Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, Jan. 13, 2016. Flickr/Creative Commons

Filtered water isn’t safe to drink in Flint, Michigan after a contractor demolished a bridge near the General Motors facility and broke the water main.

Flint’s water crisis is a racial and political issue. It featured prominently in the 2016 Democratic primary and it came up again during the recent Democratic Party debates.

Residents of Flint have been unable to safely drink their tap water since 2014 when the city, in an attempt to save money, switched water sources from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River. Due to insufficient water treatment, lead leached from water pipes into the drinking water and exposed more than 10,000 people to elevated lead levels.

Some officials said in early 2017 that the water quality had returned to acceptable levels, but residents were doubtful. As of April 2019, an estimated 2,500 lead service lines were still in place, Flint Journal reported.

Systemic racism helped to cause the Flint water crisis, a government-appointed civil rights commission in Michigan said in a 129-page report released in February.

Flint is 57 percent Black, according to the U.S. Census.

At least one class-action lawsuit alleges race discrimination in Flint, CNN reported. “Our lawsuit alleges race discrimination in how and why the predominantly African-American population was exposed to contaminated river water while the surrounding predominantly white population continued to receive clean Detroit water,” attorney Michael L. Pitt told CNN by email.

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Flint residents have known for years to only use only bottled or filtered water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

But now, thanks to the water main break, they must boil their filtered water. A large water main break caused a drop in water pressure, ABC12 reported. A loss of water pressure can cause bacteria to enter the system, so a precautionary boil advisory was issued. The advisory may be lifted in 24 hours on Friday morning if water samples come back clean, ABCNews reported.

Few, if any, of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have offered a clear vision of how to guarantee safe water flowing from the country’s aging pipes, HuffPost reported. Lead in the water supply can damage children’s brains and freshwater reserves are at risk of drying up.

Of all the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, self-help guru Marianne Williamson came the closest to describing the problem when she said, “Flint is just the tip of the iceberg.”