Flint, Michigan natives It Lies Within have recently joined forces with Craig Owens, lead singer from the band Chiodos to work on a charity compilation album. The project titled Not Safe to Drink will also feature artists Pentimento, Baggage, Braidedveins, The Swellers, Taking Back Sunday, and many others. All proceeds and donations netted from the album will be directed towards the Community Foundation of Greater Flint organization to help those afflicted by the crisis.
The city of Flint, Michigan is currently facing a water crisis of great magnitude after switching their water source from Lake Huron running through Detroit, to the Flint River. The actual physical problem began on April 25th of 2014 when the city officials from Flint finalized the authorization to consume from the Flint River. Having poorly negotiated the time frame to an upgraded regional source in 2011 complications arose almost immediately. The residents of Flint began to complain of the color, taste, and smell of the new water coming directly into their homes.
By August of 2014, people had been instructed to boil their water after it had been discovered that it was contaminated with E.coli, and the advisories continued intermittently through the rest of the summer. As a precaution the water was being treated with more chlorine to combat the contaminants and as a result GM (General Motors automotive corporation) believed the highly treated water would be corrosive to the automobile parts. Despite that, Flint officials continued to tell their residents the water was safe to consume. By January of 2015 it was declared that Flint was in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act due to the exceedingly high levels trihalomethanes.
Trihalomethanes are the byproduct of the disinfection and chlorination processes the water was being subjected to. Trihalomethanes occur when three hydrogen atoms are replaced with halogen atoms and can lead to higher indexes of cancer and other health issues. Despite all of these chemical compounds being found in the water, officials insisted that the water was safe to consume. After the population demanded that the water source be switched back to Detroit, they were told no because of increased costs to the city.
In February 2015, Flint resident Lee Ann Walters contacted the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Chicago. She had stopped drinking the water as of December after her youngest children suffered rashes after bathing, and her oldest was losing clumps of hair. She reached Miguel Del Toral, an agency representative, to whom she explained that after her water filter could no longer keep up with the decontamination, she had been instructed to contact a plumber to correct her problem as Flint was supposedly treating the water to prevent lead contamination. Del Toral did not believe the resident’s plumbing was the issue as her home was a newer construction and had plastic piping that would not leach lead. He investigated further. Officials of Flint later admitted that they were not doing anything to prevent the corrosion of the pipes themselves. It is now confirmed that at least one of Walters’ children is suffering from lead poisoning.
The Coalition for Clean Water held an injunction requesting the immediate return to Detroit water denied by the court judge in June of 2015. In July, the memo Del Toral had sent to the Flint officials earlier in the year was leaked and residents were once again told to “relax” about the situation. In the leaked memo, Del Toral recommended the immediate treatment for lead in the water. The EPA recommended lead levels were almost seven times over the safe limit. To further underplay the critical numbers of contamination, the state decided to remove two water samples from the testing pool, one of which being Walters’ house. This move skewed the test to favor Flint officials’ statements. That was when Virginia Tech University tested three hundred homes and found samples so highly contaminated with lead that they would be considered toxic waste.
Flint pediatricians have been finding higher percentages of children affected with lead poisoning, which is detrimental to neurological development among other things. It wasn’t until September of 2015 that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder admitted the way everything had been handled was erroneous.
Due to all of these problems arising in Flint, many people have been suffering and unnecessarily placed in harm’s way. Many musicians, politicians, and other celebrities have been contributing to aid the residents of Flint. Music Existence reached out to Flint metalcore act It Lies Within, to learn more about the area, the situation and how the music community can help. We had the privilege to interview vocalist Zachary Scott and this is what he had to say.
ME: As natives of Flint, how have you been affected?
Scott: We all live in the suburbs of Flint so we aren’t directly affected. However, we have friends and family that are dealing with this crisis. We are all doing our best to lend a helping hand anywhere needed.
ME: What has been done to correct the problem?
Scott: There have been countless city council meetings and even state board meetings. However, not much has been done yet. We are thankful to everyone who has donated to the cause. Bottled water is needed.
ME: Since the 1960’s Michigan has experienced an economic downfall, what do you think keeps people in Michigan despite the hardships?
Scott: The state as a whole is beautiful. The Great Lakes are amazing on either side of the state. We also have the amazing nature of the north. Our school programs are great from top academic high schools to very respectable colleges. We also have a ton of die hard sports fans as well as our very own Detroit Rock City. Music is definitely alive here.
ME: According to filmmaker and Flint resident, Michael Moore, he expresses that the reason behind the water crisis is the demographic makeup of the city. That the politicians in charge did not care to resolve the issue sooner because the city is made up primarily by racial minorities and impoverished residents. Do you believe this to be true? Why or why not?
Scott: I don’t really like to dabble into politics. Michael Moore makes some interesting and sometimes extreme points. My main issue is that the problem should have never happened in the first place and regardless it needs to be fixed immediately.
ME: He also suggests a radical idea that the people should revolt and no longer send water bottles to the area. On his website he explains that the people should demand for the federal government to take further action and have FEMA assist the people afflicted by providing them with potable water. Furthermore, he explains that the excess plastic waste from the bottles will contribute to more environmental hazards, for legal action to be take against the governor and to help the people who are willing to evacuate. Do you support any of his ideas? How would you change them?
Scott: Again, he makes some solid points. However, the city needs clean water to drink, clean, cook, and more. I agree with the waste issue but Michigan has been recycling for years so it’s nothing new to us. I would like to make some more noise to get the attention the issue deserve. I don’t think a protest would help anything though. The point is getting across just slower than we all hoped.
ME: Lead contamination in the bloodstream has serious permanent health repercussions that are quite serious and can lead to death. Knowing this, how do you think future generations of Flint will be afflicted and what have you done to stay safe?
Scott: Only time will tell. At this point everyone is a little shaken up and frightened about their health. Water testing is key for us right now.
ME: What do you think it will take to get more people involved for help and to find a solution?
Scott: We are doing everything we can. All the news stations are helping spread the word. The community is strong which is much needed. I think some government funding to replace the pipes would be the best case scenario.
ME: How can the music community contribute aid?
Scott: I think creating awareness is the biggest thing. Anything to let people know the seriousness of the situation. Donate if you can but spreading awareness is key.
To learn more about the cause or donate check out any of these links below: