Why Are Flint Residents Being Forced to Pay for Their Toxic Water?
National advocacy group Food & Water Watch today joined local Flint, Michigan residents calling for a moratorium on water service bills until the water flowing from taps is free of lead and other contaminants. The move is an effort to raise awareness about the alarming shutoff notices Flint residents are facing for non-payment, even as people are not able to drink their tap water or cook with it.
“In 2016, it's shocking that an entire U.S. city cannot drink its tap water. Now they are shutting off residents for overdue bills. But no one should have to pay for poisoned tap water," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said. “Today we're calling on Mayor Karen Weaver, City Administrator Natasha Henderson and Flint's Chief Financial Officer Jody Lundquist to stop the water shut offs in Flint; restore service where it has been disconnected, which is necessary for basic sanitation and hygiene; and to cease billing Flint residents for water until this tragic situation has been corrected."
“Skin rashes, hair loss and long-term health consequences that result from copper and lead poisoning are just some of the impacts that Flint residents like me and my family have been dealing with for over a year," Melissa Mays, Flint resident and founder of Water You Fighting For?, said. “To be told our water was safe to drink when it wasn't is criminal and to continue to have to pay for it is unconscionable."
In 2014, Flint's emergency manager Darnell Earley disconnected the city from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and started providing residents with water from the Flint River in order to cut costs. Almost immediately after the switch, residents noticed changes in the smell, color and taste of the water coming out of their taps. Tests showed high levels of bacteria that forced the city to issue boil advisories. The city then upped the amount of chlorine it used to treat the polluted river water to kill pathogens, resulting in high levels of potentially carcinogenic disinfectant byproducts. The city failed to put in place proper corrosion controls based on direction from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, so lead and other heavy metals leached into Flint's drinking water, poisoning residents for over a year.
Despite the fact that it knew about the problems with Flint's water, Governor Rick Snyder's administration and the Department of Environmental Quality told Flint residents that their water was safe to drink.
“Flint is not the first city to fall victim to the shortsighted quick fixes of emergency management, particularly in Michigan," Hauter added. "Conservative-led austerity measures have stripped communities like Flint, Detroit and Highland Park of democracy, taking control of vital resources like water away from the people and placing them in the hands of incompetent emergency dictators who then cut corners, shut off water service and pave the way for corporate control. We must reverse the austerity measures that have brought Flint to this dire place and commit federal funding to upgrade our water infrastructure so no community suffers without access to safe, clean, affordable water."
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Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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