Water crisis hits Flint residents


Much like Ferguson and Baltimore, Flint was a city plagued with crime and challenges that was forgotten by its own nation until tragedy struck and lives were lost or endangered.

This time, however, lives were not lost at the hand of a law enforcement officer exerting illegal force. Lives were lost at the hand of the State of Michigan, which failed to meet a basic need of its residents: clean and safe water.

This week, in the latest in a long series of developments in the story, news reports are saying Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration knew of potential links between the Flint water problems and Legionnaires’ disease.

Two years ago, city officials decided to switch Flint’s source of water from the Detroit River to a new system that would not be ready for use for two years. In the meantime, the government decided to use the water from the Flint River as the city’s source. The highly corrosive river water transported by the city’s lead pipes produced contaminated water in the homes of Flint residents. Although tests proved otherwise, the city and state governments assured residents that the water was safe and drinkable.

Now, two years later, residents of Flint have fallen ill. Flint’s water issue has gone from local media coverage to national and even international coverage.

The media coverage of Flint focuses mainly on what went wrong and images of the water itself rather than on resolutions of the problem. Many of the news stories on Flint show visual footage of the toxic, brown water coming from resident’s tap. They also explain the failures of the state and local government that lead to such a catastrophe. Residents tell of the unwanted changes in their lives.

While these are very important components to the story, I think the more important question is how this problem will be solved. Although the media have shown large donations of bottled water going to Flint, that is only a short-term fix. The media should focus more on when and how the lead pipes carrying the water will be replaced and how the work will be funded.

There should be more of a focus on how the problem will be fixed in the long run so that a crisis like this never happens again.