Flint - The Story Behind the Music
While Pestilent Age strives to write material relating to global or Unites States national problems the band thought it was important to talk about a problem that is very much local for us. A lack of clean fresh water is a problem that troubles much of the globe. For those of us fortunate to live in a 1st world country challenges like this hardly ever pop into our mind. Until it happens in your own back yard to your own friends and family most of us would never give such problems a second thought. 2014 marked the year residents began to notice something strange with the city water. City officials shrugged off claim after claim. The sick became sicker, some died, and as of 2017 Flint is still in the midst of a crisis. Our newest single “Flint” talks about a city in need, it talks about the brave citizens that stood up to the government officials, and it talks about the government officials at the local, state, and federal level that turned a blind eye.
Flint has been a staple in the Michigan music scene for a while. Death Metal seems to do well there. Lucky for us it’s only a 20 minute drive from our hometown of Lapeer. In past bands as well as currently in Pestilent Age we’ve made many friends frequenting the cities concerts, bars, art walks, and everything else the city has to offer. Even when the members of Pestilent Age were just children Flint has been a town with a crippled economy. It’s the town that General Motors forgot. Flint itself was basically built to be a manufacturing city that fed the Detroit auto industry, once manufacturing jobs left the state a rapid decline began. Drugs, murder, rape, and theft are more common in this relatively small city than almost anywhere else in the United States. Residents left with no other option sell drugs or themselves to put food on the table. With the only major source of tax income gone the infrastructure of Flint quickly began to crumble.
The year 2008 is perhaps most memorable to Americans because of the financial collapse. This collapse left no corner of the U.S. unscarred and the places already impoverished were hit especially hard. Flint’s last available taxable businesses closed down or moved, and so did the many residents. Finally pushed over the edge Flint was almost to point of bankruptcy. To combat this problem an emergency manager Michael Brown was appointed by the state of Michigan. Michael Brown immediately began cutting budgets and a big cost to the city was Flint’s water supply. Flint paid large sums of money to have water that was pumped from Lake Huron from Detroit to its residents and businesses. An alternative option was to draw and treat water from the Flint River. The Flint River has always had the looming notion that it’s unsafe, unclean, and downright toxic. Never the less Michael Brown amid concerns began this program. During talks about the switch scientist found that water from the Flint River was up to 19 times more corrosive than the water from Lake Huron. City officials were told that an anti-corrosive agent would have to be added to the water supply because many of the city’s water pipes were outdated and contained lead that could seep into the water. Although this treatment would only cost one hundred dollars a day city officials decided to go against the judgement of scientists and not add the anti-corrosive agent. By 2014 the switch was officially made.
Almost immediately after the switch residents began to complain about their water being brown, the taste was off, rashes broke out on their skin, and their hair began to fall out. Officials time and again assured the residents the water was safe to drink. The GM plant could no longer use the water in its plant because it was damaging parts. Detroit offered to waive the reconnect fees if Flint wanted to begin using its water supply again but Flint officials declined the offer. By February of 2015 the EPA and DEQ agencies find high traces of lead in the water supply. This is brought to the attention of several city officials. However the public wasn’t notified about these findings until that July only due to leaked documents. The EPA at the time claimed that these results weren’t entirely conclusive yet. Official public documents did not come forward until that August when scientists at Virginia Tech released test results taken from Flint homes. In September the EPA and Virginia Tech engaged in disputes over the accuracy of the test. Meanwhile doctors began to report elevated levels of lead in young children. These test results were initially denounced by the state but after a week the state changed their statements saying they were in fact accurate.
Soon the water was switched back to Detroit’s water supply. Unfortunately this was too little too late. The corrosion caused by the harsh Flint water had eroded water pipes to the point that they began to constantly release lead. The citizens of Flint then filed a class action lawsuit in November and in December 2015 the head of the DEQ resigns. Almost two years after the crisis first started Flint received federal aid, free bottled water, and water filters. Snyder’s apology in January of 2016 did little to calm city residents. Legionnaires disease was found in the water supply shortly after sparking more protests and grabbing more national attention spotlighting the cities problem. Federal aid was shot down for this problem and just 28 million dollars was set aside to deal with the increased outbreak of disease, medical problems associated with lead, and infrastructure improvements. As this hit national news the regional EPA director responsible for Flint then resigns.
As this case begins to unravel Flint’s mayor asked for an additional fifty five million dollars to replace all of the lead pipes in Flint. Michigan governor Snyder considers this proposal. February of 2016 came to be and the first round of charges were handed out to the Flint water treatment supervisor and 2 environmental safety officials while another class action lawsuit was filed by residents. July of 2016 saw more city officials charged with crimes. In November a judge finally ordered water to be delivered to all houses that have not had a state official verify that their water was in fact safe to drink while more officials were then charged that December. January of 2017 the EPA released a statement saying Flint’s water was finally safe to drink although there is still doubt within the community to this day.