Since 2014, Flint, Michigan has been in the news due to a crisis that occurred within its water supply.  In this article, we will talk about what happened.

History of Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan is an industrialized city located along the Flint River in Central Michigan.  In the early to mid-twentieth century, Flint grew as a result of the many factories and industries that supported the growing automobile industry. These industries and factories chose Flint due to access to the river. River access allows for the movement of both raw materials and  products. Unfortunately, these industries were the economic heart of the city were also the biggest polluters of the river.  Additionally, the factories treated the river as a dumping source for raw sewage.

Flint Michigan Water Crisis

The city of Flint, Michigan historically received its consumable water from Lake Huron which was provided by the city of Detroit.  Even though the water was reliable, treated, and clean, due to the distance, it was not a cost-effective source of water to provide to the residents of Flint, Michigan.  In a cost-saving method, in April 2014, the city of Flint  switched to receiving consumable water directly from the river.

What Went Wrong?

When officials made the switch  from Lake Huron to the Flint River, they failed to properly install anticorrosive mechanisms or new pipes. These mechanisms are standard practice in the industry. The officials opted to use older infrastructure installed decades earlier.  As a result, the pollution already known to exist in the river coupled with lead contamination from the old piping infrastructure exposed the citizens of the city to toxic levels of lead.

The water in Flint quickly declined in quality. The water tasted disgusting, smelled, and had a brownish color. If residents used the water, they lost their hair, broker out in rashes, and got ruined laundry. Additionally, the untreated water led to the third-largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in history.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Medical experts explain Legionnaires’ Disease as a form of pneumonia caused by bacteria in unsanitary water.  The disease has a death rate of about ten percent.  Although there is currently no vaccine for Legionnaires’ Disease, it is completely preventable through proper hygiene and proper treatment of water supplies.  Medical experts also suggest boiling water before use as a preventative measure.

The Future of Flint

In our next article, we will discuss the result of the Flint water crisis.