The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is far from over. Test results for February show the amount of samples with elevated levels of lead in some of the city’s elementary schools increased when compared with January numbers, MLive.com reported.
Celebrities have stepped up to donate to the people of Flint since the water issues began, including Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Cher, Jimmy Fallon and the Detroit Lions. Now, actor Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith are joining in to donate fresh bottles of water to Flint’s school children.
The father and son’s eco-friendly water company JUST Water has already donated more than 9,200 bottles to the city. It will continue to donate every month until lead levels are below the federal action limit, meaning it is drinkable again.
“This just makes sense for us to do,” JUST Water CEO Ira Laufer told Mlive.com. “Jada Smith has visited Flint and met with the mayor. Flint is very dear to her heart … After reading more about [Flint’s] challenges and the mayor objecting to pulling bottled water from the schools, we thought ‘Let’s help these kids.'”
JUST Water is sourced from spring water in Glen Falls, New York, and it was founded by the Smiths as a green alternative to plastic bottles. According to its website, JUST bottles are 54 percent paper-based from certified forests in the Forest Stewardship Council. The bottles also use 32 percent plant-based plastic, including the shoulder and cap of the bottles, which are made mostly from sugarcane.
That means that while JUST helps students by donating clean water, they’re also helping the environment by not donating standard petroleum-based plastic bottles.
Water Crisis In Flint
The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when officials switched the main water source to the city’s Flint River while a new pipeline was being built, NPR explained. This change soon gained national attention when the city’s corroded pipes began polluting the water.
The pipes had not been treated with corrosion control, leading to high levels of lead and complaints from residents of rashes and other physical symptoms. Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha first called attention to the health issues she was seeing in Flint’s children and her research lead her to pinpoint the problem.
In January 2016, President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, which enabled the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to disperse filters and fresh water.
Flint is now back on its original source of water, the Detroit Water System, but the damage to the contaminated pipes cannot be reversed. The focus now is on replacing all the pipes in the city — nearly 20,000 — which is estimated to be completed in 2020.
The chart below from December 2017 shows how many contaminated pipes have been replaced so far and how many still remain:
As residents wait for pipe replacement, those with the corroded pipes continue to not be able to drink or bath in their water without a filter. This interactive map shows exact locations where pipes have and have not be replaced to see just how many people are affected:
If you’d like to help Flint’s children, you can donate to the Flint Childrens’ Health and Development Fund, which helps address short and long-term impacts of lead exposure on the children affected by the crisis.