Unfortunately, on Monday they hit a water main. My mom came over to my apartment to ask if my water was working and when I turned it on, it was just a trickle. Then we discovered letters telling us that the construction had hit the water main and that we'd need to boil all our water before drinking it or brushing our teeth with it until Friday, when the test results would come back. May I remind you that it was MONDAY at this point?!?! And when I tried to wash my dishes later that night it came out of the faucet brown. Decidedly not potable.
(Side note: my friend Lexi from China Lake Camp is the person who taught me about the difference between potable and palatable water. Potable means safe to drink, palatable means tasty. Plenty of water is potable but not palatable. But when a sign tells you there's no potable water available at a spigot or something, you got problems. So this whole no potable water in my town thing keeps reminding me of my friend Lexi. Kind of a silver lining!)
Luckily I had a jug of water in my fridge that I could use for drinking that night and brushing my teeth (Although let's be real, I totally kept accidentally using the tap water to rinse my toothbrush because it's just a habit, ya know? But I haven't died- or even gotten sick- yet!) and I decided to just not do my dishes. It was a bit of a struggle finding clean dishes, but the good news is that my mom lives right next door and she has about a zillion, so it was all good.
And, ultimately, Friday came around and I found out that the water is, in fact, safe to drink. Life as usual resumed. The week was a bit of a pain in the ass, but all things considered it was a pretty minimal impact. When I was at work I filled up my water bottles to make sure that I would have water to drink, and my toilet still worked and I was able to shower in my water. I just couldn't actually consume any of the water. It wasn't potable.
Here's the thing though: at no point in that week was I ever unable to get clean water. See, even if I hadn't had a safe water source at work every day I could have just boiled some water for five minutes and it would've been fine. I never bothered to do that because I didn't actually need to and also because my only pot is one that holds about three cups of water and I just figured it wasn't worth the effort to sterilize water in such small quantities. But if I'd needed to, I could have. Or I could have borrowed a larger pot from someone. I had many options at my disposal for how to manage my mini water crisis.
You know who doesn't have that? The residents of Flint, Michigan.
I went four days without in-home access to drinking water. It has been over two years since the residents of Flint found out that they didn't have drinkable water. And it's been over four years since their water was safe to drink and they didn't even know about it. But that's not even their biggest issue- their water is full of lead and other chemicals that aren't safe to bathe in, either. When they take showers and baths, they get rashes. The lead absorbs through their skin and causes internal bleeding! That is way WAY worse than anything I dealt with.
Here's something I read about a while ago: parents in Flint have to keep paying for their deadly water because children living in a house without running water could be taken away by Child Protective Services. COOL. You might be wondering why they wouldn't just move away. Well, first of all that's not always something people have the resources to do. But you know what another factor is that I just learned? People who live there aren't able to sell their houses (not that anyone would want to move there and buy them anyway) because it is illegal to sell a house with leaded water.
How many of you would be able to pick up and move your family somewhere safe and just eat the cost of the house you own? Probably not many. These people are literally trapped by the legal system, and their government recently ended its bottled water distribution for them. Meanwhile, the state of Michigan just granted access to Nestle to pump 100 million gallons of groundwater for basically no cost. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. Something is seriously wrong with the world. It makes me sick.
Something needs to be done for those people, and the answer for sure isn't just ignoring the problem. It is absolutely unthinkable that the government hasn't stepped in to rectify this situation. It is horrific that here in America, where we consider ourselves one of the leaders in health and safety of our citizens, we have allowed this water crisis to go on for so long. I am ashamed. We should all be ashamed. Consider the fact that we just bombed Syria because of their chemical weapons attack (first of all, bombing another country because of their acts of war and aggression makes ZERO sense to me, but that's another story) and then think about the way we have responded as a nation to SO MANY humans rights violations here. If the rest of the world conducted themselves the way we do, the United States should have been bombed for the ongoing poisoning of an entire city for YEARS. It is absolute insanity.
On a slightly more positive note, below is a video that I saw the other day that gives me hope. I don't think that this girl's invention is going to be able to help the people in Flint directly (they already know their water is poisonous), but it absolutely blows my mind that a child can see a problem in the world and have more sympathy toward it than the United States government and actually do something about it. This kid is my hero. I hope she continues for the rest of her life to be as persistent and dedicated to making the world a better place as she is as a twelve year old. I wish that half of our elected leaders were as moved to help the people of this country as this girl is. I hope that someday we learn how to take care of each other a little better.