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COLUMN: Public should consider full spectrum of Flint water crisis


Two weeks ago, Central Michigan Life covered the Flint Water Crisis. Hearing stories from students whose families have been affected by this tragedy is heartbreaking.

As someone who grew up just outside Flint, I have sympathy for those suffering. I agree  the government has let the City of Flint down. Citizens should be able to trust that their leaders are looking out for their best interests.

In this case, they were not.

However, I was a bit frustrated by the opinion that Gov. Rick Snyder is completely to blame and should be fired. Though our governor had a hand in the crisis, it is important to look at the big picture.

There were several other leaders, both at the state and local level, who contributed to this disaster.

Back in 2013, the Flint City Council voted to stop buying Detroit water and join the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), a new pipeline project that would deliver water from Lake Huron.

It would save the city $19 million over 8 years, which is exceptional considering the small amount of people living and paying taxes in the area.

Shortly after this decision was made, Detroit notified Flint that it would no longer sell water beginning in April 2014, even though the KWA project would not be completed for 3 years.

Forced to find a new source of water, Flint began investing $4 million into its water plant.

City council members, city employees and state officials all gathered to break ground on it, and city mayor Dayne Walling said, “It [was] a historic moment for the city of Flint to return to its roots.”

After problems arose in January 2015, City Manager Darnell Earley announced he would hire a water consultant to try and improve water. By September, the city was notified that the water was acceptable under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

However, in October, Snyder committed $1 million to purchase water filters for Flint, began testing the water in schools at the state’s expense and worked to gain better control of the lead pipe erosion.

Obviously this is a crisis and there are victims who are suffering; however, only blaming Gov. Snyder seems fallacious.

Mistakes were made, but they were made by more than just one person. What is even more important to consider is Snyder’s actions since the crisis: he asked President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency, released all emails regarding Flint, and is working to the best of his ability to respond to the crisis.

Naturally, being the governor, Snyder has received a great deal of blame, but instead of focusing on whose fault it is, it seems much more important to find a solution.

Rather than firing Snyder, we should respect his willingness to accept the repercussions of this tragedy, his extreme transparency, and his progressive attitude.

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