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  • Aaryan Doshi

Environmental Injustice - Flint Water Crisis


Environmental Injustice - Flint Water Crisis - image: adobe firefly

The Flint Water Crisis, a stark example of environmental injustice, emerged in the mid-2010s. This event, with its far-reaching implications, serves as a poignant reminder of the need for environmental equity. 


Flint was previously one of the most affluent communities in the nation. It was the birthplace of General Motors, Factory One.


However, by the middle of the 2010s, General Motors had experienced a considerable reduction in the amount of presence it operated at this site. Flint's population has dropped by fifty percent as compared to the level it was at in the 1960s. Compared to other cities in the country, Flint had one of the most elevated poverty rates. The decimated neighborhoods of Flint were now inhabited by people who had limited financial means and did not have the resources to relocate from Flint. In 2011, the state assumed control of the city's governance as a result of the city's precarious financial situation.


In 2014, the city of Flint, in a bid to cut costs, made the fateful decision to switch its water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) system to the Flint River. This decision was made in the midst of the city's severe financial difficulties, which were particularly felt in its low-income communities of color. The decision was implemented by an emergency manager appointed by the state, with the intention of serving as a temporary solution until a new water pipeline could be built.


It was found that the water from the Flint River was more corrosive than the water obtained from the DWSD system. Nevertheless, the critical precautions that were supposed to be taken to control corrosion were not implemented during the transfer. The result was a contamination of the drinking water supply due to lead poisoning caused by the acidic water, which extracted lead from old, corroded pipes and fixtures. 


Flint possessed an aging, deteriorating water infrastructure that contained a substantial amount of lead service lines. Due to the prevalence of older homes with lead pipes, the risk of lead exposure was worsened when corrosive water passed through these pipes. 


The citizens of Flint, who were residents of lower-income communities, were disproportionately affected by the disaster. These economically challenged neighborhoods were confronted with health issues that were related to lead exposure, such as increasing lead concentrations in children.


References:


Flint water crisis. (2024, May 12). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis


Birthplace of GM: Factory One | General Motors. (n.d.). https://www.gm.com/stories/factory-one


Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need to Know. (2024, April 30). https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flint-water-crisis-everything-you-need-know


The Flint Water Crisis: What’s Really Going On? - American Chemical Society. (n.d.). American Chemical Society. https://www.acs.org/education/resources/highschool/chemmatters/past-issues/2016-2017/december-2016/flint-water-crisis.html


Study confirms how lead got into Flint’s water. (2017, August 1). PBS News. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/study-confirms-lead-got-flints-water


Blackmore, W., & Blackmore, W. (2023, October 26). New Study Reminds Us Why the Flint Water Crisis Was a Black Problem. Word in Black. https://wordinblack.com/2023/10/study-why-flint-water-crisis-was-black-problem/

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