Flint taken over by corporations

Sahil Saxena, Business Manager

When the city of Flint switched its water source to the Flint River, the city’s taps began spewing out pungent, colored water, which was later determined to be lead-contaminated. As thousands of residents experienced dangerously high levels of lead in their water supplies and some contracted a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, few criminal charges were filed on state and local officials. Four years later, government officials are now declaring Flint’s water safe to use again. Just recently, the state announced they will stop providing free bottled water and instead grant Nestle access to pump out drinking water for commercial use. Nestle can now boost their water extraction from Michigan, pumping out over 576.000 gallons of water per day.

Essentially, the Michigan government has decided that giving water to companies like Nestle is more important than protecting their local residents, who have suffered harm from deadly diseases by drinking contaminated water. Clearly, the government should continue providing free aid to their residents because the residents’ health is the most important concern in the state. Additionally, it is not right to allow a big corporation like Nestle to bottle water since the sources may still be contaminated.

Many Flint residents’ biggest fear is drinking water that at one time was causing their children to lose their eyesight, their hair, and even their memory. For anyone in that position, it is very reasonable to be skeptical of that water. Even if the water was perfectly normal again, many residents cannot afford buying water from other sources and it is not fair for the residents to be forced to drink the tap water. Plus, the water is not even perfectly normal again; Virginia Tech professor and scientist Marc Edwards, who originally published a study about the Flint water crisis four years ago, says that the water is not necessarily safe to drink: “The data we’ve collected is now not in disagreement with the state showing that Flint is in the range of federal standards, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.” Essentially, although the water has been reported to be clean, several pipes not monitored by the government may still contain dangerous levels of lead, which is something to be wary about.

Aside from drinking tap water directly, allowing Nestle to bottle this water and sell it to millions of consumers may be catastrophically harmful. By giving Nestle access to even more water in Michigan than before, the government is essentially stating that water is not a human right, but rather a commodity, for corporations to fight over. For something as crucial to survival as clean water, I believe it should be guaranteed to all citizens. Giving Nestle this access shows that the state of Michigan is assisting in corporate greed at the harm of their residents.