Michigan’s Water Crisis: Our State Government has Failed Us for Too Long

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Michigan’s Water Crisis: Our State Government has Failed Us for Too Long

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By: Bella Dahlquist

Published: December 10th, 2018

April 24th, 2014 was when the city of Flint, Michigan found the first accounts of lead in the drinking water.  This occurred after the city began to draw water from the Flint River rather than the Great Lakes to save money.

Since a state of emergency was declared, 12 people died in Flint and another 87 are critically ill, all having ties with the dangerously high lead levels in the water.  State officials have been indicted on counts of negligence, failure to protect citizens, and manslaughter. Governor Rick Snyder promised to take “serious action” in response to the heightened lead levels in 2015 and proposed $1 million to filter clean water in Flint.

It has been four years since the first account, and Flint still has contaminated drinking water.

Now that 2018 is coming to a close, the residents of Flint still suffer with dangerous health conditions and a lack of clean water.  For years, Michigan’s State Department of Environmental Quality and Governor Rick Snyder have received harsh criticism on the local and national level for their handling of the situation in Flint.

And it gets worse.

Recently, there have been accounts of PFAS found in well water in other areas of Michigan.  PFAS, or its more scientific name, Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, is a man-made chemical and global pollutant.  PFAS can be found in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, cleaning products, and in firefighting foam.

PFAS in drinking water has been found in Kalamazoo, Gaylord, Marquette, Grand Rapids, and in other cities in West Michigan.

Snyder and the State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof have thrown their money at testing the water for PFAS, but that has not been enough.  In Michigan, there is no state standard that would prevent chemically-poisoned pipes from carrying our drinking water. With the obscene failure of a non-existent drinking water standard, our state has committed dangerous human rights violations.

Also, the Republican-dominated Michigan government failed to follow through on Democrat-sponsored bills introduced to the Senate to limit PFAS infested pipes.

The lack of concern by the Snyder Administration about toxic water has consequently led our cities to have undrinkable water for years. PFAS levels in Michigan’s well water can lead to cancer and weakened immune systems, and the lead in Flint’s water caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Pneumonia.

Thankfully, there have been no cases of PFAS-related injuries.  But that doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future if no one takes action, which means something needs to change in Michigan’s government.

In the 2018 Midterm Elections, former State Senator of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer won the Governor’s race, as well as many Democratic seats in the State House and Senate, making Michigan a Democrat-dominated government.  During her campaign, Whitmer vowed to “replace all of the lead piping lines across the state” that are connected to drinking water taps. Replacing the aged, lead pipes and switching the water system back to extracting from the Great Lakes is what the Snyder Administration should have done in the first place.

Hopefully the Whitmer Administration will commit to real change.  It’s what the citizens of Flint, and the citizens of Michigan, deserve.



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