It is far from over.
This tweet from a local musician from Flint, Michigan reminds followers that the town's water crisis, although improving, is far from over. The infamous crisis began in 2014, when city officials chose to switch Flint's water source from Lake Huron to water from the Flint River. The city's difficulties peaked in late 2015, when studies by Virginia Tech concluded that Flint's water contained lead and was ultimately not safe for human consumption, even after boiling.
Now, nearly a year after confirmation of the presence of lead in Flint's water source, many Americans have accepted that the crisis has been solved. In January 2016, President Obama issued $5 million in aid to Flint and declared a state of emergency in the city. In April 2016, criminal charges were filed against government employees Mike Glasgow, Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby. According to CNN, "Busch, a district water supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Prysby, a district water engineer, each face six charges. Glasgow, a former laboratory and water quality supervisor who now serves as the city's utilities administrator, is charged with tampering with evidence, a felony, and willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor." Later in May, Glasgow reached a settlement with prosecutors.
But the question remains largely unanswered among the legal logistics of this American disaster: What happens to the water now? In a recent interview, Harvey Hollis, Michigan governor Rick Snyder's point person for the water crisis, said, "Things are getting back to normal." In April, NPR reported that the city was "re-scaling" pipes to prevent lead seepage and filtering water. The ultimate goal, however, is still to switch water sources entirely, and construction on a new pipeline is still with an uncertain end date. Until then, things are moving toward, but are far from normal.
What Jon Connor's tweet reminds us, then, is that passing off the water crisis as "solved" or "over" is naive and overly trusting of a system with a history of failure. The Free Press reports that officials cannot give Flint residents a date which the water from their tap will be drinkable without using a special filter. Many citizens are rightfully leery of the filters and rely solely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and even bathing. Pregnant women and children under six years of age are still being advised to avoid drinking tap water, regardless of filtering. America can't yet chalk this up as a crisis solved. Legal actions against the people responsible for the poisoning of an entire town cannot be considered retribution for the lives taken and endangered. Don't call Flint, Michigan "normal" until the right to clean water is fully restored.