Disaster by negligence

Two weeks after being declared a federal state of emergency by President Obama, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is still far from resolved.
The city’s water, previously sourced from the Flint River, hasn’t been treated properly since April 2014, resulting in the corrosion of city pipes and a dangerous level of lead being introduced into the water system.
The fact that it’s 2016 and a crisis of this magnitude is occurring is incredulous.
At this point, the city’s 102,434 residents weretoldtheir water is unsafe to drink or to prepare food with. The impending health consequences of this exposure—especially to the city’s most vulnerable 8,657 children—has only begun to be uncovered. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder currently has no plan to replace the corroded pipes, nor has he proposed any specific actions to address the growing health concerns of the community.
There are a number of actions that could have been taken to evade or mitigate this situation. In large part, the citizens of Flint are suffering due to a gross ineptitude of the people appointed to take care of them. Sadly, this crisis has been years in the making.
In 2011, amid a financial state of emergency, the State of Michigan took over Flint’s finances and appointed a financial manager to “cut the budget--at any cost,” said state Congressman Dan Kildee. At this time, the city stopped purchasing its water from Lake Huron and started sourcing it from Flint River.  
CNN experts immediately recommended the state allocate $100 per day to add an anti-corrosive agent to the water to satisfy drinkability standards. Had this suggestion been taken seriously, the Flint water crisis would likely never have happened.
Rather than adhering to the advice of field experts, however, government officials failed to act. In April 2014, then-mayor Dwayne Walling and other city employees appeared before local media to publicly drink Flint River water and dissuade complaints from concerned citizens.
Despite this heroic act from the Mayor, Flint residents were not convincedtheir water was safe. Civilians complained about the brown color and the foul odor oftap water. When these concerns were ignored by city officials, some petitioned the help of outside experts. In September 2015, Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards was asked to look into the situation. His results were as undeniable and staggering: lead levels were the worst he had ever seen.
The same month, Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha presented data that showed the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels had doubled throughout the city. Finally, the city of Flint had concrete evidence to support their concerns. Yet both studies were shrugged off by the government and Dr. Hanna-Attisha and Professor Edwards were similarly shunned for “causing near hysteria,” according to Hanna-Attisha.
Although government officials continued to publicly deny the city’s water contamination, measures were being made to cover up their mistake.  According to emails released by political group Progress Michigan, state employees began receiving bottled water in January 2015, following a notice “regarding violations to the drinking water standards.”
Finally, in October 2015, the water supply was switched back from Flint River to Lake Huron. But at that point, the damage had been done: the corroded pipes are past the point of repair, and the lead has already been ingested by virtually every citizen—40 percent of whom live below the poverty line.
This issue was avoidable and it’s absolutely unacceptable. It’s clear that the government only started to care about this low-income community when the water situation became an outright disaster. The state officials knowingly breached their contracts by allowing these health violations to continue, and they simply need to be held accountable. The people of Flint deserve justice.