The Flint Water Crisis captured national attention about the dangers of lead contamination in public water supplies. Now, nearly six years after the problem was first detected, health officials are reporting on the well-being of children in Flint.
We've put a lot of effort into doing things to help our kids recover. So there's been a lot of work around early literacy, health care, quality child care and preschool. And these are things that we know help our kids. We do have the Flint Registry, where people can share how they're doing, share their stories and get connected to services. We've been enrolling in the Flint Registry a little bit over a year, and there's around 24,000 people who have pre-registered and around 7,000 people who've actually completed the full registration for that.
What’s the general atmosphere these days in Flint in terms of the way residents and families feel about their health, particularly the water? Do they feel they're being taken care of by their local officials? Are they calmer than they used to be, or more anxious? More trusting or distrusting?
I think that's a hard question to say. We have a lot of families and a lot of different people have slightly different experiences. There's still a lot of concern about the water. We're in the midst, towards the end actually, of replacing the lead service lines. We’ve replaced over 9,000 lines and I think we have less than 1,000 left to go. They’re hoping that gets done by summer.
But, while that work is being done, that definitely impacts the potential for lead in the water as they're doing that construction and replacement. People are still concerned; I think we all are. It's an ongoing concern that we have clean water that’s safe to drink in our homes.
Are most people in Flint using the public water system or are they still on bottled water?
To my knowledge, it’s a mix. My mom lives in Flint. I know she actually uses public water. I know of several other people that do not. So, I believe it's a mix at this point. They are not providing water in the same way they were a couple of years ago where there was extensive water being distributed, so it’s caused some shift. There's a lot of focus on filters in Flint, but some people still prefer to use bottled water.
Who needs to hear this report and be proactive?
I would argue that the State of Flint Kids really applies for almost everyone. I, right? I mean, I think everyone in our own community in Flint, we care. We think it's an issue that is important to others in Michigan. I think that what happened in Flint made everyone more aware about the water.
I think that the work that we're doing, the solutions we're finding and the ways that we're developing partnerships and moving forward…is really a model that other communities can use also to address their own problems. They may not have physically have lead in their water, but they may have something else. It’s a model for other cities to pattern after.