Clean and Safe Water is a Moral Right!
An Open Letter to Governor and City of Flint Officials
By President Francis Gilcreast
Flint Branch NAACP
Clean and safe water is a moral right and a fundamental expectation for the residents and citizens of Flint. This time last year we had a water supply we could trust and use for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing. Although the cost was high and rates seemed to be on the increase, people are usually willing to pay for what they can use. Water is a basic need that is required for survival. The city had been buying our water from Detroit, but because they had increased their prices, officials in Flint specifically the Mayor, Emergency Manager, certain city council members and other elected officials decided it would be cheaper to provide our own water and build their own pipeline to Lake Huron and avoid the price hike of water from Detroit. This would be all fine and good, if a well thought out plan and process would have happened.
The Flint officials decided they would give the Flint residents water from the Flint River and started pumping water through the pipes of a system that had not been used in more than forty years. It was quickly determined that the pipes were old and corroded to the extent that General Motors refused to use Flint Water because it was causing problems with their parts and the smell and color of the water was a dingy brown color. The officials then started adding chlorine to the water to offset the odor and when water testing was done, it was determined that byproducts from the chlorine raised levels of a chemical in the water that required notices to be sent to Flint residents alerting them of this. The warning stated that if you were a nursing mother, infant or had a compromised immune system, then you were at risk for health problems. City officials did not take into account, the health risk that may be involved and there were no feasibility studies done to determine whether or not their plan was practical. Officials at local hospitals were not consulted on what changing the water delivery source would mean to them. There are many compromised patients and individuals in our local medical centers.
The residents of Flint noticed the change in the water immediately, people are complaining of skin rashes appearing, increased eczema and other skin abnormalities occurring since this change in the water source.
Now, because of the public outcry, the blame game is in full force. The mayor is blaming the emergency manager for the problem, who was conveniently promoted to another position in the state, by the governor. City council members are saying they didn’t have all the information and are now backtracking on what they supported.
It is time to put the people first and take politics and balance sheet revenue out of the equation. This has become a life and death situation and safety and the lives of people should be the priority. The elected, as well as appointed officials need to serve the people and not themselves. The current emergency manager states that it would cost too much to go back to the old system even though Detroit officials have offered to reconnect without raising the price. It seems our current emergency manager and other city officials are not putting people first, but are using the cost as a reason to deny its citizens clean water. If this were Grand Blanc, or Oakland County, something would have been done immediately.
We don’t know how long this consultant will take to be hired and provide an analysis of our water quality. We have no guarantees that the current plan will work and in the meantime the people are suffering and are paying high prices for water that is only good for flushing toilets!