In Flint, Mich., levels of lead in the water supply have fallen but remain above the federal limit. Residents of the city are outraged and demand justice.
More than 1500 Flint residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against the EPA, citing an act of negligence. They demand over $700 million for the federal agency’s alleged mishandling of a lead-contaminated water supply. According to the lawsuit, the plethora of claimants believe “timely and protective action” did not take place on their behalf.
Flint’s water supply has been corroded with lead, ever since the city began to use the Flint River as a water source. This change in water supply was implemented to cut costs.
The Indiana Daily Student ran a piece last March about why the water crisis in Flint occurred. IDS reporter Emily Beck quoted Dr. Todd Royer, who was a panelist at a conference about toxic water issues.
After learning of the suit against the EPA, Dr. Royer had this to say regarding the suit.
“It is clear that many of the residents suffered damages, including health impacts, psychological stress, and unanticipated costs associated with obtaining safe water,” said Dr. Royer, an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environment Affairs.
In addition to teaching at SPEA, Dr. Royer has established a career as an ecologist who specializes in water quality. He has served as a technical advisor for the Indiana Department of Environmental Quality.
“At various levels within the government, the people with oversight responsibility failed to identify the problem, or were told of the potential problem but opted not to act. In essence, political concerns were prioritized over public health,” he said.
As for the future of toxic water cases like Flint, some sources claim that many similar cases will presumably happen in the near future. Dr. Royer, however, remains skeptical.
“I would not say that Flint is the tip of the iceberg. That suggests we should expect a lot more Flint-like crises in the future, and I do not think that is going to be the case,” said Royer.
“Flint showed us what the worst-case scenario looks like when water treatment and good governance fails to protect the public.”