The Water Can Kill You

This post is submitted to Sunday Photo Fiction.

steampunk

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

It was four years ago this month that the horror began. She began to smell a foul odor when she turned the water on in her dirty apartment on Flint’s east side. Her two small children began to show red rashes on their faces.

In September city officials warned her to begin boiling water before using it. E-coli and coliform bacteria were found in the city’s water supply. Those were new words to Rhonda. They soon became part of her daily vocabulary.

In October, the city’s largest employer, General Motors, stopped using Flint’s water because it corroded engine parts. At times Rhonda thought the state was more concerned about GM’s water than they were for the residents of the city.

By January 2015, residents were being told that the water contained high levels of byproducts from water-disinfectant chemicals—chemicals known to cause kidney, liver and nervous system damage.

Today Rhonda sometimes waits for four hours to get two free cases of water at a time. But mostly she buys water — five cases on Monday, five more cases on Thursday — so she and her kids can cook and bathe and brush their teeth like any other ­American family.