michigan water crisis

    Published: January 5, 2016

    New Bills Affecting the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

    In November, lawmakers at the Michigan State Capital building met to propose a series of bills related to the state’s problems with both the affordability and quality of public water. With them was Melissa Mays, a mother and water activist from Flint, Michigan, a town that has made the news several times in 2015 concerning poor water quality.

    Mays is concerned with the possibility of lead in her city’s drinking water. Since Flint switched to a new water source, the municipality has seen a sharp increase in lead poisoning, the full effects of which may not be known for years. Mays herself expresses concern that lead poisoning has affected her three sons’ academic achievements, and as lead poisoning is irreversible, they may be affected for life.

    Flint representative Sheldon Neeley announced plans to introduce legislation to help prevent water quality issues from reaching the point they have in Flint. His bill would require the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to collect water samples using procedures approved by the federal government. The MDEQ has admitted the incorrect standards were used for Flint’s water treatment tests.

    Neeley’s bill would also prohibit the continued practice of “preflushing,” a controversial water sampling technique that can lower the amount of lead in test results.

    Flint isn’t the only city in Michigan with water issues. Both Detroit and Highland Park have suffered from large-scale water shutoffs aimed at people unable to pay what many see as unacceptably high water bills.

    Representatives Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) seek legislation moderating widespread water shutoffs, including offering more payment options for residents with water utility debt and prohibiting shutoffs for vulnerable residents. As Chang notes, what happened in Detroit could repeat itself in other cities.

    Finally, in a move she herself admits is probably not enforceable, Representative Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) proposes the state define water as a human right. She is quoted as saying, “Are there teeth behind this bill? Possibly not, but at least we’re making a statement that everyone in Michigan has a right [to water].”

    While encouraging, such bills have to pass legislation and will take time to implement. In the meantime, residents of Flint, and possibly other municipalities, continue to take chances with their drinking water. The only way to ensure the water you’re drinking is safe is to install a whole house water filtration system capable of removing lead and other contaminants before they enter your home. Contact a water specialist at Pelican Water today to discuss the quality of your water.