Trust in the Time of Lead-Poisoning

As I write this, my partner is letting the water run through our new filter in the kitchen sink for five minutes before he starts dinner. We just picked it up at the fire station on Atherton Road.

We moved into our new apartment on Friday. We’ve finally got most of our belongings unpacked and we’re able to function as normal, twenty-first century human beings after spending hours on the phone with Comcast.

Originally, my partner and I were planning on buying a home in Flint. He’s about to graduate from Michigan State University and the housing market is cheap here. After working in Flint for a couple years, I’ve come to love this city more than almost anywhere. Buying a home made a lot of sense.

Within weeks of starting our search, though, the Flint water crisis was making national headlines. It may sound crazy, but I was undeterred. At least initially.

“I already drank the water for months when I was working at PrintComm. You’ll be living in Indiana for a year. By the time you move here, it’ll be fixed. What difference does it make?” I asked.

My partner leveled with me one day.

“Your health may not matter to you, but you’re my family. It matters to me.”

So, finally, we agreed that this wasn’t the right time to buy a home in Flint, and that the smartest thing to do would be to find a place in the suburbs where we wouldn’t have to worry about the water.

It pained me a little, since I had sworn against ever moving back to the suburbs just a year ago when we left East Lansing for Lansing. In many ways, the sprawl of our suburbs has ruined Michigan’s cities. I won’t stray further, but suffice it to say that I love Michigan’s long-forgotten cities and want to support them every way I can.

So, we found a place in Grand Blanc that we really liked. A month later, here we are. In Grand Blanc.

Except when we went to set up our utilities, we found that our address shows up as Flint rather than Grand Blanc.

Admittedly, it wouldn’t make any sense for us to be connected to Flint’s pipes. Where we live isn’t contiguous with the city of Flint. We live about a mile south of the city’s border. Moreover, the water seems fine. It hasn’t come out of the faucet in any weird colors, it doesn’t smell, it hasn’t left me with a rash after bathing in it the way it has for many of the city’s residents.

To be safe, I asked whether or not our apartment complex had Flint water—twice. Both times I was told no, the complex is on Detroit water. What I didn’t think of when I asked that question is that, well, actually the entire city is on Detroit water now. Only Flint’s pipes have been decimated by the switch to the Flint River and the terrible decision not to treat the water properly.

You know what also wouldn’t make sense? The cities of Burton and Flint fighting over who was supposed to plow the street I used to work on in Flint (and, consequently, no one clearing it).

You know what else wouldn’t make sense? Switching a city’s water source without treating it properly.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you shouldn’t be too trusting.

Not after the state denied that anything was wrong for over a year. Not after drinking the lead-poisoned water for months on end at work. Not after TTHM was found to be in excess of federal standards in 2014-2015.

Should we be worried? There’s no telling. I’m done taking chances. No one should be taking chances with their health in this city.

Testing Kit

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