The Flint Water Problem Part II: Jumping In And Helping Out

Posted on: December 12, 2016
By: Alan O'Neill
Posted in: Count On Us To Care, Plumbing

Lead poisoning is dangerous for anyone. Lead in the water system in Flint. Michigan once again made headlines. Experts say that water treatment would have prevented 90% of the problems with Flint’s water. The Safe Drinking Water Act, enacted in 1986, required the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for the concentration of lead in public pipes and pushing for “lead-free” water systems. Some water management systems could replace old lead water pipes with PVC. But, that’s expensive and some smaller communities had to use anti-corrosive agents as a cheaper and faster solution.

Because the water source in the Flint River was corrosive, the water interacted with the lead in the pipes, which made the water unsafe to consume. Fortunately, the mass media coverage and the scale of the situation prompted celebrities, companies and everyday individuals to step in to help.

Cher and Icelandic Glacial are joining forces to donate 181,440 bottles of water. Sandra Bernhard has been active on the talk-show circuit and social media, instructing her fans and followers on the best ways to get clean water to the city. The music band Pearl Jam along with some other closely related organizations have donated over $300,000 to the United Way of Genesee County. Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has been speaking about this problem since it was first discovered. And many, many more people have been helping.

One of the most notable displays of kindness came from 300 plumbers, who showed up to install water filters and other equipment – for free. One of the most contaminated, according to test results on the State Of Michigan’s website, is Whaley Children’s Center. Plumbers volunteered to install filters and replace pipes that tested with high lead levels at this center, other schools and facilities and private residences. Many also needed new faucets because their existing faucets were so old they could not accommodate the water filters provided by the state. The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry coordinated the effort and the fixtures were donated by the Plumbing Manufacturers International. Filters won’t fix all the water problems, since they can only remove so much, but effort provided by these plumbers and organizations have really made a significant difference.

One little boy made a difference for his Flint school mates in a big way. Isiah Britt, a second-grader from Gainesville, Virginia, and his parents decided to send bottled water. But, were told that the Eisenhower Elementary School really needed hand sanitizer because the kids were afraid to use the tap water to wash their hands. He told the school that he would raise enough money to send enough hand sanitizer for the whole school. In less than two days they had raised the first $500 through a GoFundMe page. His goal is to continue collecting donations in $500 increments and send his hand sanitizer packages to schools across Flint. Purell agreed to match Isiah’s donations by sending liter bottles for each classroom and mini-bottles for kids to carry with them in their backpacks.

Similar efforts are being made continually. Even a little donation to a charity in Flint can be pooled to make a big difference. For more information on how to help, you can go to:

Flint Water Fund has a dedicated driver who distributes water throughout Flint everyday.

Catholic Charities of Genesee County serves nearly 1,000 meals every day at its soup kitchens using bottled water, since some residents can’t use the water in their homes.

The American Red Cross distributes water testing kits, water filters and bottled water at several locations.

Michigan State University published a report on how families can limit the effects of lead exposure through nutrition. The report also lists various agencies that provide food assistance in Genesee County.

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