The Flint Water Crisis is an ongoing crisis that started way back in 2014. It was decided that, to save the city of Flint some money, they would switch the source of the drinking water from the great lakes they had been using, to the river that ran through the city.
You might shrug and say, ‘so what’? Well, the problem with this was that the Flint River hadn’t been used as a water source for many years and now contained old tyres, shopping trollies and god knows what else.
Shortly after the switch, residents began complaining that the water coming out of their taps was brown. Then things began to get really serious.
Children, and adults, where coming out in rashes, people where ending up in hospital with pneumonia type symptoms, that would later be revealed as Legionnaire’s disease.
Miscarriages went up, reading scores amongst children went down, and more and more health issues were raised in the years following the switch. In some homes the tested level of lead in the water was 13,500 parts per billion (ppb). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends levels be no more than 15ppb and water contaminated with 5,000ppb of lead is classed as hazardous waste.
So, obviously, this being a Western country, one of the richest nations on Earth, the government swiftly stepped in and solved it all, right? Wrong, oh so wrong. This crisis is still ongoing, the people of Flint still do no trust the water supply that comes into their homes.
It was residents who opted to bring in an external scientist from Virginia Tech to sample the water. But when he suddenly switched sides and began helping the governor, who many blamed for the crisis in the first place, a new group stepped in to be the saviours.
Enter stage right, Water Defense, the group backed by actor Mark Ruffalo, and their “scientist” Scott Smith. I say scientist because, as many point out, he wasn’t a scientist, isn’t a scientist, he’s an inventor and is terrible at backtracking and apologising.
It’s also telling that Water Defense no longer exists, gone to the great scrapyard in the sky, probably for the best.
Flint is directed by British director Anthony Baxter and written by Richard Phinney with narration by Alec Baldwin. It’s the latter who, after seeing an early cut of the film, decides to visit the residents of Flint, shocked as he is about the lack of action from the government, wondering why these people stay in the city.
Flint is a shocking story, something you can’t quite believe would happen in one of the richest countries in the world. The lack of input from the government, the fact that the governor kept his job, wasn’t sent to jail, the whole thing stinks. If that’s what the ‘land of the free’ looks like, you can keep it.
Flint is available on BBC iPlayer from 1st December www.flintdocumentary.com