WO cares: Flint water


Water fountains in Flint covered with trash bags.

Christopher Guerrero

Nearly 140 miles away, but still close to home, Flint is suffering. West Ottawa students, clubs, and teachers are all helping out with the major water crisis just two hours away. The water crisis occurred right after the city of Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Lead-contaminated water began to pour out of local sinks and fountains in April 2014, and it has been a rough problem ever since.

  Close to West Ottawa student Jr. Alexis Holton is citizen Autumn Myer Rose, who lives in Flint. Sick since September 2014, Rose’s daughter has had to deal with the unfortunate side-effects of drinking and bathing in Flint’s dangerous water. According to thinkprogress.org, children who drink the water can get side-effects which include lower IQ scores and slowed growth. “[The water was] tan to orange and smelled and tasted like rust, then it was clear to bluish teal and smelled and tasted like chlorine,” Rose said. Not only do residents miss the freedom of being able to use tap water, they now hate “…having to boil water or only use bottled water to bathe in and always having to have bottled water in hand to cook with as well as to water our pets because lead affects them as well as us humans,” Rose said.

  Residents including Rose have tried to make an attempt to complain to their water companies, but the companies would respond with “there was nothing to worry about, that the water treatment plant was taking care of it and was going to issue letters to the city,” Rose said. According to cnn.com, Gov. Snyder recently introduced a $30 million refund for water bills paid since April 2014. The refund would cover 65% of the water bills paid. Even with the $30 million reimbursement, it would still take around $60 million to cover all usage and charges since April 2014.

  After the discovery of the contaminated water from a group of researchers at Virginia Tech, bottled and filtered water prices rose. “About $1.99 for a case of [a] twenty-four [water bottle pack]  to about $5.00,” Rose said. Due to these outrageous prices for clean and safe drinking water, celebrites, clubs, churches, stores, and many other organizations are doing everything they can to help out. From Beyoncé to Cher, celebrities all over the country are outraged that no one has tried to fix the water problem and, in turn, have provided assistance to those in need.

  West Ottawa’s own Gay-Straight Alliance club (GSA) will be donating water to Flint citizens. “The goal of gay-straight alliance is to make West Ottawa a safer place for all students, and [the GSA club] felt this water drive is an extension of that into the larger community, as it is kids and students that are most at risk,” club advisor Nathan Kukla said.

  Recently, Frosh. Lily Harman visited the city in crisis with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holland to deliver bottled water to the club in Flint. Harman said, “Many residents don’t really mention the water since they still have to live with the crisis every day. It was just regular people doing their everyday thing, even though [the Flint residents] lived with this water they still had a strong sense of community; I’m blessed that we live in place with clean and fresh water.”

  Flint locals are still far from being able to access their own clean water at home, but it’s still good to know that there are students and teachers at West Ottawa helping.  “It’s sad and embarrassing that it’s something that could have been fixed years ago, and yet [the city] left it covered up until another state was worried and came and exposed it,” Rose said. The city has been placed under a state of emergency until the issue is resolved.

If you would like to donate, GSA will be collecting donations in the Art Room 602 in the South.
Donations can also be dropped off at the front desk at North with a note that it is for the GSA.