Michael Moore: Don't Send Bottled Water to Flint

Illustration for article titled Michael Moore: Don't Send Bottled Water to Flint

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 math:

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 today which requested that a 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 on Amazon Prime tonight and ship a few crates of Aquafina 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.


Okay, so you signed the petition and want to do more? Here’s how to help.

[Don’t Send Bottled Water]

Follow the author at @awalkerinLA




I think Michael, you, and literally everyone sending bottled water are missing the incredibly obvious here.

I’m an engineer with connections to the water & wastewater engineering community of Michigan and was just there this past week and so got to learn a lot about exactly what is going on in Flint.

This is isn’t going to be a temporary problem in terms of weeks, but more like years. Essentially, the Flint water system has been damaged in a way that can only be fixed by a lot of time or an insane amount of money.

So water bottles, and even drums aren’t going to cut it. Luckily to solve this Flint doesn’t need either.

You see, the Flint water system still works just fine for moving water around. It’s just not potable. Turns out there is a fairly (in relative terms of ripping the whole thing out and replacing it) inexpensive and fast solution to this problem.

Current whole house filtration systems that cost less than $500 (more like $100 if you are buying them for an entire city) can easily filter out the metals present and bring the water up to a very high standard of quality. Even better news is that the filter technology has gotten so good they can reliably treat the water for ten years or so at a shot. Which, is more than enough time for the system to recover and be healthy again.

So, lets do some number crunching.

There are approximately 50,000 housing units in Flint according to the 2014 census. Lets assume that a bunch of those are apartments but on the other hand we need filters for businesses so it all ends up a wash. So, we need 50k filters at $1k installed which is utter highway robbery but we are looking at worst case scenarios here. Total cost to get this crisis over in the next few weeks? $50 million.

Currently more than $100 million has been donated or earmarked for this disaster.

I really don’t know what to say about why this hasn’t already been implemented. Part of the blame can be put on officials who see all this money as a great way to get a shiny new water system. Part of the blame can be put on them again for being to busy pointing fingers at each other over this whole thing. The biggest part of the blame however lies with the american public for listening to blowhards like Michael Moore his ilk and arguing over shit like how many bottles of water it takes to brush your teeth instead of empowering smart people with smart solutions.

Now, none of this speaks to the true disaster that Flint faces, which is an unknowable future of children affected by this lead exposure, but lets solve the problem we can as fast as we can and THEN move on to next!

Anyway, I feel very strongly that this country gets wrapped up all too quickly in rhetoric and political finger pointing screaming for political heads to roll instead of working toward smart solutions to stupid problems.