Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Water everywhere…and not a drop to drink

19 Comments

Many of you have heard about the water crisis in the city of Flint. It’s making national news.

Essentially the short version (and the short version doesn’t do justice to the actual reality) is that years ago an emergency manager was appointed to handle Flint’s financial woes and in an effort to save money the water supply was changed from the Detroit system and the Lake Huron to the Flint River. Turns out the water from the Flint River ran through old pipes and the combination was deadly. Now there is lead contaminated tap water in homes, businesses, and schools. The water had been consumed for over a year before people persistently making noise finally caught media, and thus government, attention.

Of course it is much more complicated than that. There are all sorts of politics involved. And charges that only minority dominated cities were put under emergency management in the first place. But the bottom line is that once again concern about money trumped concern about people’s safety.

Tuesday night our governor gave his State of the State speech and he spent most of it talking about Flint. He explained the timeline of events from his point of view, and though he took ultimate responsibility, he also wanted to assure everyone that his people had not told him about the magnitude of the problem until recently. And he’s going to prove that by releasing his emails.

Somehow none of that is making anyone feel better.

Early Wednesday I went for my walk up at the mall. Walking alone, I had plenty of time to notice the snippets of conversation between other walkers. Here’s just a bit of what I heard, each of these from a different pair of walkers.

“Governor Snyder said he didn’t ….”

“The corrosive water ran through the old pipes and leached lead into the water…”

“We don’t want to hear you say you’re sorry…”

“Well, it just really seems like…”

“I don’t know how it all can be fixed…”

“Finger pointing won’t help…”

“None of the Republican candidates are talking about water…”

“Who’s going to pay…”

I’ll let your imagination finish these conversations. Regardless of where your mind takes you it will be a dark place. There are no easy answers to this monumental problem. The governor has declared Flint a disaster area. The National Guard is passing out bottled water and filters. The mayor of Flint has had a meeting with President Obama in the oval office and the President has promised to help.

But ultimately the problem will take years to correct. And the underlying political issues? Those may never be sorted out. When General Motors abandoned Flint, taking with it thousands of jobs, many people left the city. The resultant lowered tax base couldn’t meet the needs. Inept politicians ran the city, ultimately causing financial ruin and emergency management. Should that have happened? Whose fault is it?

More importantly, what can be done to avoid in the future the series of events that led one community down the garden path to tainted water?

Change is hard.

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Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

19 thoughts on “Water everywhere…and not a drop to drink

  1. It’s horrifying. The effects of lead on young children are thought to be irreversible and significant. I was reading about it this morning and it’s just shocking.

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  2. What can be done? Without people who govern “for the people”, very little.

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    • People, as usual, have to stand up and be noisy to get noticed on stuff like this. Even though they were protesting no one was paying attention until one local doctor started noticing lead levels and began to make noise.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t realize you live in Michigan, I think I forgot that, or am I wrong? I live in Michigan, 34 miles outside of Detroit. I think what happened in Flint is deplorable. I also think it was dead wrong that Obama’s schedule couldn’t be changed yesterday to enable him to visit Flint. Had it been a re-election year for him, he would have. DakotasDen

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  4. The last story I saw on this stated that the net savings was $100 per day. It’s shocking and as someone else already commented, horrifying. I can’t figure out if the people responsible for this decision are evil or just plain stupid. Either way, they need to be held accountable in a strong way. Not a slap on the wrist, but some time in jail to think about it.

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  5. Similar water issues are happening around here, but in smaller towns and cities, so it’s not hitting national news.

    I anticipate fresh, clean water is going to be a monumental problem in our country in the next couple decades. Maybe the problems in Flint will have other community leaders looking for solutions.

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    • That’s probably the only good that can come of this. I agree water is going to be a huge issue. More than once other states have wanted to divert Great Lakes water. So far we have not let that happen but I am sure it is inevitable.

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  6. we had a lead problem in a town back home – it took nearly 30 years to clean up the mess 😦

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  7. There are actually deaths associated with this issue; this is such a sad chapter in our history, none of this had to happen.

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    • There is suspicion that the Legionaries disease deaths were related to the water…but I don’t know that they have confirmed that yet. It IS a very very sad chapter in Michigan history. This never ever should have happened, and once there was information about what was going on it should have been stopped immediately.

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  8. GREAT POST. I don’t care whose fault it is, it is unacceptable. I try very hard to avoid the news. I follow up on the things I see on FB and twitter. And I follow a very diverse group on both. I saw almost nothing about this issue in my newsfeeds. Your post was the first one that caught my eye. Not enough people are outraged by this situation. Not enough people are paying attention. Instead we are distracted by Oscar diversity, and Trump/Palin. It is not a sexy issue and it is a complicated issue. But the bottom line is we have an American city without clean drinking water and all stops should be pulled out to fix it. Obama should visit Flint when attends the Detroit auto show and talk to the people. We can’t all give money (although even a few bucks would help) but we all can pay attention, make other people aware (as you have done) and stop being distracted by non issues. It’s not enough to post and like and social media, we have to take action and say—No! This is wrong and we want it fixed and it will not happen again. Ever.

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    • The President SHOULD have visited Flint while he was at the auto show, but he did not. The FEMA request to call the area a disaster area has been denied twice because this is not a ‘natural’ disaster, rather it’s man made. So though there will be federal assistance, not enough to fix the problem. We will have to figure it out ourselves. It’s made national news..but will, I’m sure, be dropped as soon as the next thing (like a big snow storm) comes along.

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  9. I have some pretty firm convictions about this particular issue, and I would like to refer you to what I consider to be an excellent and civilized discussion about it on the Wednesday, Jan 20, Diane Rehm show, where the participants included Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician whose determined efforts finally resulted in acknowledgment of the lead problem.

    There is an archived podcast of the broadcast and a transcript at https://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2016-01-20/the-latest-on-the-flint-michigan-water-crisis

    I listened to the original broadcast live, and it is one of the best overall treatments I have heard or read so far.

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