The state of Michigan has just ended the free bottled water program for residents in Flint, Michigan although the process of replacing old lead pipes for thousands of residents continues. Testing shows that lead levels have dropped beneath the federal action limit, but for residents who lived through the state’s mismanagement of the Flint Water Crisis, concerns obviously remain.
Clean, accessible water is essential for human life. Adding to the frustration is that companies like Nestle were granted permission by the state to pump water near Flint:
[T]he governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, announced on Friday that city residents would no longer receive free bottled water from the state.
Instead, residents will have to pay some of the steepest tap water prices in the country: around $200 per month for water they aren’t even sure is safe to drink.
To put all of this into perspective, Nestle pays around $200 per year to pump almost 100,000 times the amount of water that the average Michigan resident uses.
And now, the company has been given the go ahead to pump nearly double that amount – with no additional cost, of course.
I have a hard time putting my frustration and anger about this into words. Devaluing human life and suffering while promoting corporate profits… This is not the best that we can do.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have come and gone, but the destruction of these gigantic weather events remain and will remain through the visible infrastructure damage and the threats to human health.
Breaches at water treatment plants and flooded toxic waste sites in Houston pose hazards to people cleaning up and rebuilding their homes. Water-damaged structures are likely to grow mold, hospitals and medical professionals face closures or running out of resources for those in need of care.
In Puerto Rico, where the electrical grid was nearly wiped out from Hurricane Maria, hospitals are relying on gas-powered generators. I think it’s really hard, particularly in the areas of US unaffected by these large storms, to imagine the wide-scale damage that has been done. We are very disconnected from the mechanisms that make life comfortable and in some cases, possible. Electricity is something I really rarely think about, same with gas lines, access to fuel, water and food. Cutting off any one of these things would make life more difficult, but dealing nearly all of those things being cut off or made extremely inaccessible that on top of needing specialized medical care (anything from refilling prescriptions, to receiving chemotherapy, to access to a doctor to check out a persistent cough) and needing to rebuild or find a new home are extremely overwhelming. Puerto Rico is facing months of rebuilding efforts to
If you have the means to do so, I encourage you to donate to relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Despite being a US Territory, they are really not receiving enough aid to respond to the magnitude of damage that was done. The longer Puerto Rico goes without an adequate response to Hurricane Maria (and Irma) – the more dire the health of its residents will become.
Money is particularly useful. In-kind items, unless specifically asked for, need to be sorted, inspected, transported and ultimately may be trashed if not useful (clothing donations frequently end up being on the garbage end of donations). If you can donate money, these are some organizations that are doing direct work in Puerto Rico that are particularly focused on health: