FLINT, Mich. (WLNS) – Five years ago this month, Flint switched its drinking water source to a cheaper option for the city: the Flint River.
Since then, more than 100,000 people were exposed to high lead levels in the water. This sparked a water crisis that gained worldwide attention.
Even though the Flint Water Crisis technically began in 2014, a federal state of emergency wasn’t declared until the beginning of 2016.
Some officials say as early as a year later, the water was safe to drink. However, the people who live there now still don’t believe it.
“All this disaster, yet the law remains unchanged,” said Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
Guyette says Michigan’s emergency management law is the reason behind why Flint’s water crisis has lasted so long.
“It is further injury to the people of Flint, further insult, further abuse to the people of Flint,” said Guyette.
The law signed by former Governor Rick Snyder in 2011 allows the state to take away local power and appoint emergency managers to serve in a situation like the water crisis.
Two of those emergency managers face felony charges for conspiracy and misconduct in office, but the law itself has not been changed.
“To say, yes this law was significantly a factor in causing this disaster, but we care so little about that fact we’re going to do nothing to change the law that caused that, I just think that is unconscionable,” said Guyette.
“There are a number of pieces in the budget that are addressing the Flint Water Crisis, some that are one time, some that are ongoing,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer says the state is currently working on the problems.
“They were let down in the worst way, and it’s not fixed yet, but we’re getting there,” said Whitmer.
Guyette says Flint wouldn’t have gotten the attention it did if it wasn’t for the persistence of the residents.
“These people of Flint who came together like that really don’t get their fair share of credit for uncovering this crisis, this disaster,” said Guyette.
All of the lead pipes in Flint are currently being replaced and Governor Whitmer says that process should be finished by the end of July.