Billionaire Elon Musk has pledged to provide every household in Flint, Michigan with clean drinking water.
“Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination,” the chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., SpaceX, and Boring Co. said in a tweet Wednesday. “No kidding.”
One day earlier, Musk hinted that it wouldn’t be the first time he’s helped the city.
Already have— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2018
Musk didn’t provide many details about plans for cleaning up Flint’s water supply system but did confirm to a reporter from CNET that he’s serious about the project.
You’re right on both counts. Most houses in Flint have safe water, but they’ve lost faith in govt test results. Some houses are still outliers. Will organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to those houses with issues & hopefully fix perception of those that are actually good.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
The announcement comes just days after Musk’s involvement in another public crisis involving a dozen boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. Musk sent engineers to the site, traveled there himself, and even designed a “kid-sized” submarine to help in the rescue effort, though ultimately Thai officials opted to retrieve the boys with a team of expert divers.
How did the Flint water crisis start?
In April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan began drawing its water from the Flint River instead of from Detroit. It was an effort to cut costs. Flint was bankrupt and had many of the same problems as neighboring Detroit: declining property values, steep legacy costs, and a massive deficit. The decision proved disastrous.
Lead from city pipes seeped into the water and, inevitably, the number of children with high levels of the substance in their blood skyrocketed after the contamination, causing, in some cases irreparable damage to developing brains. The crisis could have been avoided if city officials had properly tested and treated the water. It also could have been avoided, or at least minimized, had city officials took action after receiving reports from residents and businesses about the corrosive water.
In April 2018, four years after the water source switch, Flint officials announced that tests showed that public water was safe to drink. The news put an expiration date on the city’s free bottled water program. However, many residents still don’t trust the water quality, citing the city’s many old lead pipes as a health hazard.
Now, Musk has set up the email address email@example.com so residents with contaminated water can begin submitting test results.
For now, reply to my tweet with ppm & ppb test results & will send someone to install a water filter. Creating email firstname.lastname@example.org, but I’m in China so that won’t be working until tomorrow.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018