Water: a necessity, but sadly, a privelige

Milagro Nolasco, Staff Writer

Clean water is an essential for survival, but unfortunately it is something that not everyone has access to even here in the United States, one of the world’s most prominent first world countries. According to unwater.org, 783 million people do not have access to clean water, and 2.5 billion people do not have sufficient water sanitation, worldwide.

Flint, Mich. is one area affected by unclean water in the United States. The government response to the crisis has been unacceptable. When the state decided to switch Flint’s drinking water from Lake Huron to Flint River water in 2014,many residents began to fall ill. As soon as the switch occurred, residents began to complain about the peculiar smell and brown color of the water.

The state government reacted terribly. Even though the Flint City Council members voted 7-1 to reconnect to Lake Huron and stop using the Flint River water, the state-appointed emergency manager overruled the vote because he believed the cost would be too much.

Although state officials insisted that the water was fine the water was laced with dangerous levels of lead, E. coli and bacterias found in the soil.

“[This] led to contamination, lots of diseases, lots of neurotoxins in the water, birth deformities and children with all kinds of issues including learning issues and cognitive issues,” speech and debate teacher Barbara Clougherty said. “Which is very costly to any society.”

Flint is a diverse area, and 40 percent of residents live in poverty, according to CNN. If this same problem had occurred in a more affluent area, however, the response would have been much different.

Nobody living in the United States in the year 2016 should have to live without clean water. This is a basic human right, and the slow response to the problem put many citizens at further risk. The U.S. government promotes human rights to water to the rest of the world but has failed in securing these rights here at home. According to the EPA, only nine states have reported that they have safe levels of lead in their drinking water, in the last three years, while the other 41 states have reported unacceptable levels, Virginia has reported unacceptable levels.

“A lot of people talk about it and get enraged about it [the Flint water crisis]. They go on Twitter and they talk, but they never actually donate or help,” sophomore Sarah Garretson said. “They just yell about it and make it worse.”  

Many areas in poverty are often forgotten where they have clean water or not, and those of us who live in affluent areas are frequently blind to the struggles of others living right under our noses. In Fairfax County, where the median household income is $110,674, we don’t have to worry about having clean drinking water. However, we should because not everyone in our own country is not as lucky. We need to get out of our own little bubbles and recognize that not everyone in our country is as fortunate as we are.