In Flint, Mich., residents are still suffering from an ongoing lead water crisis. In front of the City Hall, you can see empty water bottles daily, tossed there in frustration according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Flint resident Nakiya Wakes moved to the town in 2013. Wakes does not understand how her family still does not have access to clean water.
“We’ve been lied to for so long, we don’t trust anymore,” Wakes said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I refuse to pay for poison. It’s been more than 1,600 days and I’m still on bottled water.”
The water crisis occurred after the city switched the water source to the Flint River from the Detroit water system, which draws its supply from Lake Huron. The switch was in an effort to save money for the city. The Flint River water was 19 times more acidic than the water from Detroit.
The high lead water levels exposed thousand of children to potent neurotoxin. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, studies show neurotoxin can damage mental capacity and cause behavioral problems and learning disabilities.
The lead problem is also to blame for more than 300 miscarriages in the area. An outbreak of waterborne Legionnaires’ disease caused the deaths of at least 12 people. This resulted in criminal charges including involuntary manslaughter against six current and former state and city officials for failing to inform customers of the risks.
“It really does hurt to see people with that much power seem like they don’t care,” Jassmine McBride said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. McBride was hospitalized for Legionnaires’ disease in Aug. 2014. She now uses a wheelchair and oxygen to help her breathe.
Wakes blamed the high lead levels in the water for her two miscarriages in 2015 and 2017. Her two older sons will not drink the city water, even though her water lines have been replaced.
“My children’s lives have been changed forever because the government believed we have no right to clean water,” Wakes said. “We drank what we had, which turned out to be deadly and damaging to so many people.”