A public health emergency was declared in Flint, Michigan, yesterday over the state of the city's drinking water—and a story in the Detroit News illustrates just how bad the situation is. Ashley Holt, 25, tells the paper that the water coming out of her faucet looks "like urine," smells "like the sewer," and doesn't taste "normal"—and it's been that way for nearly a year now. Last week, a group of doctors revealed that children in the city (where 41.5% of the population lives below the poverty line) have elevated levels of lead in their blood, leading to the state of emergency and the county commissioners recommending people only use the water if it first goes through an approved filter; thousands of filters are being given to local families. On Friday, Gov. Rick Snyder said it may reconnect Flint to Detroit's water system to deal with the problem, and that the state will also expedite a pipeline to Lake Huron to get water to Flint, the News reports.
Flint stopped paying Detroit for its water service last year, citing the rising cost of the water service, and then complaints about the water quality started. Flint River is now used for the city's drinking water, and it seems the corrosive water is releasing lead from old pipes in homes, the AP reports. Residents have complained not just about the water's taste, smell, and appearance, but about rashes, hair loss, and other health concerns that may be related to its use; a General Motors plant even stopped using the water because it rusted vehicle parts, the company said. Citizens, alongside national groups, petitioned the EPA Thursday to order Michigan and its environmental officials to reconnect Flint to Detroit's water. As for Holt, she says she struggles to afford bottled water for her kids, and other locals echo that. "It’s a complex with a whole lot of people and a whole lot of babies there," says one of her townhouse complex. "These are people who probably can’t afford to go and buy bottled water. So they get forced into drinking the (tap) water that’s unhealthy."