FLINT, MI — “The thought of people being put out of their homes because the water has been cut off and it’s been cut off illegally is very emotional to me.” — Val Washington, Flint attorney fighting back tears at court hearing challenging water rate hikes.
“It has become clear to me that unacceptable lead levels were a failure of government at every level”. — Congressman Dan Kildee in letter to EPA demanding a Federal investigation into toxic water issues.
“Things are much better but the water is still not safe”. —Mark Edwards, Professor ,Virginia Tech, whose test of Flint water led to switching back to Detroit in October.
The move to return to Detroit as a water source was a huge victory for the “water warriors” here in Flint. Still, Flint continues to reside in water Hell until we find out the lasting effects on our health and the impact on our children and infants.
After bouts of E. Coli, TTHM’s, and now lead poisoning, embattled Flint residents are taking their grievances to Federal court and to the EPA in Washington, D.C. A federal class action lawsuit has been launched for punitive damages and accountability. Donations of water and filters have flooded in from everywhere to help the people.
Meanwhile, the battle for affordable water is being fought out on Capitol Hill where wife and mother, Leanne Walters, shared her story in a recent hearing. When her 4-year-old son was diagnosed with lead poisoning last year, her persistence led to a Virginia Tech study and Hurley Medical Center exposé of elevated lead levels in infants and children. Legislation is being sought to close loopholes in the EPA guidelines to prevent another child or another city from going through this nightmare.
The decision to use Flint River as our water source was orchestrated under the notorious Emergency Manager law. Emergency Managers are dispatched throughout the state by the governor to impose “fiscal discipline” on local municipalities and school boards. Their real job is to sell off public assets and privatize public services. Not satisfied with selling off public parks and senior centers along with privatizing garbage collection and more, they came after our most precious asset—our water. In their zeal to turn water into a commodity, water rates soared and water quality was ignored. Early on in the demonstrations held, one sign read: ARE THEY TRYING TO KILL US?
This system of corporate rule has put our lives at risk. The governor, a corporate shield, says he can’t live without the corporate agenda. We the people say we can’t live with it. The struggle continues.