FLINT WATER CRISIS
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THE FLINT WATER CRISIS BACKGROUND
Flint, Michigan is a small city where residents have been denied clean water for almost 2 years. In 2014, Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to take control of the city's finances. The manager switched Flint's water supply from the Detroit Water Department to the Flint River to cut costs. The city failed to properly treat the water before making the water available for consumption. This cost-cutting oversight caused corrosive elements in the water to damage the old lead pipes and allowed lead and other contaminants to flow directly into the faucets of Flint residents.
Almost immediately after the city switched over to the Flint River in April 2014, residents became concerned and angered about the appearance, smell, and taste of the new water supply. For more than a year, Flint residents voiced their concerns and their distrust of the water through all of the proper democratic avenues; however, city officials consistently disregarded their concerns and continued to claim that the new water source was completely safe for consumption. It took a whistleblowing doctor from Flint to challenge the government's claims that the Flint River water was safe for consumption in September of 2015.
After mounting pressure, the city changed the water supply back to Detroit in October 2015, and the people of Flint were assured by the state's regulatory bodies that the water was now safe to drink. However, the corrosive Flint River had done permanent damage to the aging infrastructure of Flint over the course of a year and half, causing lead and other contaminants to leach on to the newly acquired clean water. Thus, even with the switch back to the Detroit water system, Flint residents are still at risk of lead poisoning and other contaminants in their water due to the damage the Flint River did to their water supply lines and infrastructure.
Lead poisoning causes irreversible brain damage, stunted growth, and more. The people of Flint are given water that is dangerous, forcing them to use bottled water or special filters to remove lead and other contaminants. Adding further insult to injury, Flint residents pay the highest water bills in the entire country. Moreover, the city expects residents to continue to pay for their poisonous and contaminated water. The cost to repair the water infrastructure is over $1 billion, and there is NO relief in site for these residents until this happens. Now, there are new reports of Legionaries Disease that may be caused by the water contamination. The Governor has issued a formal apology, declared a state of emergency and the National Guard has come to assist the local residents.
Access to clean water is a basic human need which the people of Flint do not have. Our Muslim and American values simply do not allow us to ignore the plight of our fellow neighbors. In Islam, providing water is one of the highest forms of charity. As Americans, we simply cannot allow the people of Flint to be without one of the basic necessities for life. We also cannot wait for the lengthy apologies, investigations and deliberations that are being planned. There are approximately 100,000 Flint residents affected by the water crisis . Only a small number of the children have been tested for lead. We intend to provide more than 500,000 bottles of water for Flint residents NOW, and we know YOU will step up to help. We also will use a portion of the funds for water safety and lead education, and also assist in lead testing for children.
The Michigan Muslim Community Council is partnering with Islamic Relief USA, Life for Relief and Development, local Flint nonprofits, including the MADE Institute, the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, the Grand Blanc Muslim Youth Association and others to purchase clean water and distribute them to local residents. Our goal is to work with a broad coalition of community activists and faith based groups. The local state government is providing free filters and their residents are supposed to get assistance with their utility costs. Distribution centers exist at local food pantries, fire stations, but we will also utilize local support to reach areas which may be missed. Our local partners will be critical in setting up distribution centers and going house to house to make sure everyone has access to clean water. Other national relief agencies, including Islamic Relief USA and Life, will be working with us to help coordinate the purchase and delivery of water