The lead contamination crisis in Flint has resulted in a tidal wave of bottled water being shipped to the state to provide emergency drinking water for residents. Flint's most famous resident, Michael Moore, recently pleaded with the world: Please, do not send any more bottled water. After a town hall with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the filmmaker took to Twitter to explain what he meant. While he appreciates the generosity put forth by so many corporations and celebrities who continue to send pallets upon pallets of plastic bottles to the city, it's not the right fix. It's a short-minded, short-term solution that doesn't even begin to approach the real problem — that a generation of children have likely suffered irreversible brain damage — and it will end up creating another environmental disaster on its own. Here's Moore's maths:
Flint has 102,000 residents, each in need of an average of 50 gallons of water a day for cooking, bathing, washing clothes, doing the dishes, and drinking (I’m not counting toilet flushes, watering plants or washing the car). But 100,000 bottles of water is enough for just one bottle per person – in other words, just enough to cover brushing one’s teeth for one day. You would have to send 200 bottles a day, per person, to cover what the average American (we are Americans in Flint) needs each day. That’s 102,000 citizens times 200 bottles of water – which equals 20.4 million 16oz. bottles of water per day, every day, for the next year or two until this problem is fixed (oh, and we’ll need to find a landfill in Flint big enough for all those hundreds of millions of plastic water bottles, thus degrading the local environment even further). Anybody want to pony up for that? Because THAT is the reality.
Amen! If you want to help, he says, be a part of the "revolt" that will help overhaul a broken water system, and hold the people who did this accountable.
Moore outlines a detailed plan that includes a call to arrest Governor Rick Snyder and put the federal government in charge, echoing support for the NRDC lawsuit filed this week which requested that a US federal court force Flint to replace all lead service lines immediately. As far as drinking water for residents, Moore has a pretty solid idea there, too:
For those who choose to stay in Flint, FEMA must create a temporary water system in each home. One idea that has been suggested is to deliver two 55-gallon drums to every home in Flint. Each day water trucks will arrive to fill them with fresh clean glacial water from Lake Huron. The drums will have taps attached to them. People can't be expected to carry jugs of water from buildings that are miles away.
It's a smart solution that we've seen work after other natural disasters. It eliminates waste, puts no additional strain on local landfills and whenever — hopefully soon — Flint's water system is safe again, homeowners can use these as rain barrels.
You can sign a pledge to support Moore's plan and promise that you won't get online tonight and ship a few crates of Mount Franklin to Flint. That's an easy solution that lets the state government off the hook, when we should be demanding a more comprehensive plan that looks to the future. Moore could not be more right — this is one problem we cannot throw plastic at.