Water, Sewage & Effluent May June 2019 - Page 15

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Facts: water quality disaster in Flint 1. Anna Clark. 2018. The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy published by Metropolitan Books. 2. Department Water and Sanitation: ‘SA’s tap water is safe to drink’ media release dated 13 March 2019 at www.dwa.gov.za. 3. https://www.theguardian.com/ news/2018/jul/03/nothing-to- worry-about-the-water-is-fine- how-flint-michigan-poisoned-its- people. https://www.acs.org/content/ acs/en/education/resources/ highschool/chemmatters/past- issues/2016-2017/december-2016/ flint-water-crisis. www.nrdc.org/stories/flint-water- crisis-everything-you-need-know www.arcs.org/flint/water/crisis www.mlive.com/news www.sciencedaily.com www.dws.gov.za/iris/mywater References • Flint city was buying good quality water from Detroit • A cost-saving decision changed water supply to untreated water from the heavily polluted Flint River • Corrosive water caused lead contamination in houses • 6 000 to 12 000 children were affected over a period of 18 months • Public health state of emergency • 79 lawsuits • Seven investigations • Four resignations, four officials fired and five suspended • 15 people formally charged for criminal offences • 12 deaths (Legionnaire disease) caused by insufficient disinfection. innovations the city was under administration by the state of Michigan at that time. The blame was shifted to Detroit Water with the argument that Detroit Water ‘dumped’ Flint as a client (which was not true at all). Eventually the judge ordered that bottled water be provided free of charge to all residents. Supply was switched back to Detroit Water. Officials were fired or resigned, and an additional 15 criminally charged for offences ranging from ‘involuntary manslaughter’ to tampering with lead test results. Among the officials charged were Nick Lyon, the director of Michigan Department of Health, as well as chief medical examiner Dr Eileen Wells. A recent internet search (2019) indicates that people in Flint are still wary about water quality. Ratau should take note of a statement made by a spokesperson of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during the Flint crisis, ‘’Anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax.’’ The public of South Africa should never relax where the safety of our drinking water is at stake. Media statements not based on scientific fact can come back and haunt a spokesperson.  www.waterafrica.co.za Water Sewage & Effluent May/June 2019 13