The city of Flint, Michigan has been in the news a lot recently, after it became apparent that the quantities of lead in the city’s water were dangerously high. Those levels have resulted in a number of children becoming sick and facing potential developmental disorders thanks to the poisonous nature of lead.
What happened? Well, in 2014, Flint’s water supply was switched from Detroit water, which is widely viewed as some of the best in the country, to water from the Flint River, which is widely known as being borderline toxic. The move was only supposed to last until a new system could connect the city to Lake Huron, but that was before it was discovered that the river water was so corrosive it ate through the water pipes and allowed lead to leach into the water supply from those same pipes. The switch was ordered by the city’s emergency manager, a position that is not elected but appointed by the state’s governor, Republican Rick Snyder.
There are a number of lawsuits against the state and the city over the issue, and both are scrambling to resolve it. While the governor’s office dithers about and tries excuse after excuse to avoid the blame for the problem they caused, the mayor of Flint, Democrat Karen Weaver is trying to get the pipes replaced. Doing so would cost an estimated $55 million, which the city can’t afford on it’s own, and is turning to the state and federal government for help in covering the cost.
It is unclear yet how either government will respond, but as President Obama recently tasked FEMA with the situation, aid from the federal government might be more forthcoming. Governor Snyder has routinely made decisions based on “saving money” for the state, though many of them have resulted in problems that cost more to fix, like the Flint water crisis.