Elon Musk and the Flint Water Fix
As is well known throughout the world, Flint has experienced a massive issue with lead poisoning due to the lead content in the water systems in recent years. What’s more is that the city of Flint has become synonymous with the term “lead poisoning”. This has been a shameful and embarrassing experience for a good majority of Michigan residents, and it’s been a dangerous and infuriating experience for those living in and around Flint, Michigan.
High lead levels, lead being a toxic metal to the human body in high doses, has been known to lower a child’s IQ and result in later-in-life high blood pressure, as well as a possible early onset of menopause in women.
On July 11, 2018, a Twitter user who goes by the handle of Baby D challenged Tesla bigwig Elon Musk by tweeting, “Hey @elonmusk, I heard a bunch of people saying there’s NO WAY you could help get clean water to Flint, Michigan. Said you wouldn’t be capable idk.” Mr. Musk’s response was, “Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding.”
This Twitter exchange lit up the boards with a will-he-or-won’t-he debate. Many believe he’s overdoing it, as this was the second crisis that he offered to step in on and help out with in just a few days time (the other being an offered attempt to aid a Thai youth soccer team that had been trapped in a cave).
More than 90% of tap water is now considered safe to use and drink by EPA standards after many repairs were made to the water supply systems. In April of this year, Governor Rick Snyder announced the withdrawal of supplies of bottled water that had been offered up to residents previously, arguing that tap-water testing met federal guidelines and declaring the crisis was over.
In some of Musk’s follow-up Tweets, he remarked, “Most houses in Flint have safe water, but they’ve lost faith in govt test results,” and “Some houses are still outliers. Will organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to those houses with issues & hopefully fix perception of those that are actually good.” Musk said he would reward volunteers willing to organize a “barnstorming weekend” for water-filter installations and said he would set up an email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — for residents to request help.
Elon Musk and his team have been in touch with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, and the two are talking about potential opportunities for Musk to make an impact in the city.
“One of the things (Musk) did say was he wanted to do something that was impactful and meaningful to the city of Flint,” Weaver said. “So we’re going to continue to look at how we roll this plan out.”
Meanwhile, Flint’s public information officer, Candice Mushatt, claims that neither Musk nor his team have made any effort to contact the city officials and that the city of Flint is covering the costs of replacing pipes on their own. She continued on by stating, “However, fixtures, which were badly damaged in homes and still have lead, are not covered in the replacement. If Mr. Musk is seriously interested in helping Flint, the mayor would be open to speaking with him about our specific needs.”
While the altruistic offer is out there and reassuring in its own way, only time will tell how Flint residents will receive the much needed assistance during this very long and drawn out recovery.