Tuesday, March 22, is World Water Day. I’m a chemist at Virginia Tech in the Environmental and Water Resources group so this day is special to me. In the United States, we take for granted that our water supplies are clean and safe. World Water Day seems like a day for other countries not as “advanced” as ours.
However, as most of you are aware, Flint, Mich., is experiencing a public health crisis caused by the city’s tainted water supply. I could talk about the chemistry behind the problem or who is to blame (there is plenty to go around) or how government let down its citizens, especially the children.
But, no, I want to tell you about the group that exposed the problem—the professor, research scientist and students I am fortunate enough to work with. A concerned Flint resident and mother, LeeAnne Walters, knew something was wrong with the water. When the city and state would not help she contacted Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, an expert on municipal water quality.
That got the ball rolling.
In January, the students presented the story to the Virginia Tech community. LeeAnne and her family came from Flint and brought baked goods. After all, that is what moms do. She thanked the group for all they did and are doing.
“The fact is, they cared more about us than the city and state, and it is something we will always hold close to our heart,” LeeAnne said.
[bctt tweet=”How many times can we say we made a real difference, … righted a horrible wrong? “]
How many times, if ever, can we say we made a real difference, changed people’s lives, righted a horrible wrong? These 25 students did just that. What a blessing they are to the people of Flint, but what a blessing the people of Flint have been to them.
One student said “It changed who we are as human beings.” Another said “You can just be a normal person fighting for a just cause. You don’t have to be a president or have a title, just a just cause. We thank the Flint residents.”
Here are a few ways you can help make a difference. Donate bottled water to Flint (See the March issue of The Lutheran). Use Women of the ELCA’s resource on water at your next meeting or donate to ELCA water projects.
How will you mark World Water Day?
Jody Smiley is vice president of the Women of the ELCA executive board and a member of St. Michael Lutheran Church in Blacksburg, Va.
Photos provided by Jody Smiley; water in Flint and Virginia Tech team