Water Filtration

Water filter and plumbing water pipes

While I completely agree that there are other causes that need attention, we need to stop focusing on just Flint. Obviously, what happened in Flint is a tragedy and it was extremely frustrating for me personally because of my major as well as the work I do at the City of Ames water plant.

The public distrust in water supplies this caused was misguided and many people do not understand the levels of corruption and negligence that occurred. However, to say that Flint still does not have clean water is extremely misleading, as is most of the other supporting information offered in this article.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality states on their website that “For nearly two years Flint’s water has been meeting federal standards. The water is now testing at 6 parts per billion (ppb) which is much lower than the federal requirement of 15 ppb.” So for two years now the water in Flint has met federal requirements and is below the action limit. Obviously there still may be outliers, but for the vast majority of Flint residents the lead levels have significantly decreased and their water is safe.

The ISD article also mentions that “it is still estimated that about $300 million would still be needed over the next 20 years to help (Flint) reach a full recovery.” Again this is misleading, especially if you look at the linked article. That $300 million is for capital improvements to optimize their water distribution system as part of their Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). So in reality these are not necessities for safe drinking water but instead more of a wish list for their utility. Every city has a CIP and by comparison this number is not that eye popping.

For example, data from the City of Ames 5-year CIP’s shows about $100 million worth of improvements for water related projects in a 10-year period (2012-2022). So one could say if we keep on our current pace we would need approximately $200 million over 20 years, the same time period as Flint. So again, that $300 million is pretty normal, and usually cities have plans to acquire that funding through grants, revolving funds, or raising water/sewer rates. And yet we still are focused on only Flint and not the failing infrastructure across the United States.

I could continue on with many more reasons as to why Flint is in a very good position right now but for the sake of brevity I’ll stop here. 

Stop using the Flint crisis to spin a positive story into a negative one, especially when Flint is well on its way to recovery and the Notre Dame fire happened Monday.

You took a really inspiring moment for humanity, $1 billion dollars were raised days after a UNESCO world heritage site almost burned to the ground, and instead spun it as “Wow, look at all these people who don’t care about Flint.” There is so much negativity in the news and we do not need more of it, especially when you spin facts to make them look untrue.

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