UIS holds water drive for Flint, Michigan

John Kurecki, Features Writer

UIS students can now contribute to a water drive aiding citizens of Flint, Michigan. Cases of water that are donated will be transported to Flint, with the end goal being to distribute 300 cases to the city’s resients, according to event organizer Dazhane Sinclair.

Sinclair commented that, while some have given help, there is plenty of room for growth toward the target amount. The drive’s deadline has been extended to May 9 in an effort to give students more time to contribute.

Sinclair feels strongly about the drive, saying, “I feel like students should get involved […] this could happen to us and we would also want someone to help us.”

A research team from Virginia Tech University sampled Flint water again in March of this year, finding that, while lead levels have fallen in the sampled houses’ water, the situation has not been completely resolved yet.

The team concluded, “All Flint residents should continue to use bottled water, or Flint water passed through a lead filter, for cooking or drinking until further notice.”

One of Sinclair’s reasons for getting involved with the water drive was to remind students that the crisis has not ended despite the waning media furor. “It takes longer than a year to fix,” Sinclair said.

The crisis originally began when the city’s water supply was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River as part of a cost-cutting measure. The city switched back to their previous provider in October 2015, but it has taken time for the pipes to be cleared of potentially hazardous water.

The Virginia Tech research team believes that a major factor hampering the recovery of the system is people in Flint not using their water. Since the additions to the water must flow through the homes to have any effect, a decline in water usage has hindered this effort.

The research team believes that residents are using little water both to reduce their utility bills and also to avoid lead exposure. The research team’s study confirms that houses with less water usage are likely to have higher levels of lead in their water.

Adriana Diaz said in a CBS news article on April 15 that despite officials asking residents to use their water, the population is still reluctant to do so. The Virginia Tech researchers found that some were only showering once per week for brief periods, despite assurance from officials that the water is safe to bathe in.

In November 2015, researcher Siddhartha Roy stated, “In the vast, vast majority of cases, there would not be a significant health concern from lead exposure due to bathing or showering in potable water.”

To encourage water flow, the government is considering various measures to lessen the impact, even if the residents are just running their taps without actually using the water. Reducing utility billing is thought to be potentially effective, as, according to the United States Census Bureau, just over 41 percent of Flint’s population is impoverished.

Donations can be made at the UIS Diversity Center.