The Flint Water Crisis

On April 24th, 2014, Flint, Michigan government officials celebrated a new water source for the city, the Flint River. That date, more than 5 years ago marks the day the flint water crisis began. How a whole city lost all of its drinkable water.

Many people do not realize that Flint used to be the home to some of the wealthiest upper middle class citizens. General Motors was founded in Flint and provided a lot of prosperity to unskilled and skilled workers. But overtime, GM could not keep up with new car companies and more advanced, cost effective cars being put into the market. As a result 90% of GMs work force was let go.

From 1960 to 2017 more than 100,000 people migrated out of Flint. The local government took a heavy hit from the quick migration and as a cost saving measure, decided to divert their water to Detriot and use the Flint River instead. What was neglected was the fact that the Flint River has been used as waste disposal and sewage disposal. City officials neglected this fact even after citizens complained saying the water is fine to drink.

Virginia Tech completed a study of water sampling in flint and learned that over 45% of their samples had a serious threat of lead in them. Finally 12 children died as a result of drinking Flint’s water which was the last straw for many Flint Residents.

With the help of many nonprofit organizations, the citizens of flint took the state government to court and won the funding needed to replace their pipping. Municipal pipes are clean but pipes in peoples homes never will be. The Flint Water Crisis is one of the worst man made tragedies and some of the effects are still yet to be discovered.

The Human Right to Water

According to the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the third-worst risk to global prosperity. Having access to clean water was considered a human right by the UN in 2010. "Water Rights" can have different meanings depending on where someone lives. Unless we can admit that water and sanitation are essential for health, life, and development, severe water scarcity issues will occur by 2025.

In the United States, water rights belong to the landowner. The federal government helps make sure all of the water given to landowners is fair. A majority of these water rights were given out historically, giving a farmer or city access to a certain amount of water for multiple decades. Whatever water crosses someone's land, they have access too. Key issues have caused certain people to lose their access resulting in fights, lawsuits, and physical altercations over water.

The main issues leading to these altercations are water use in agriculture, population change, and rising temperatures. Agricultural uses a tremendous amount of water. With rising temperatures, they need more water then they have been allocated. Agriculture is also a source of pollution for the United States waterways. This makes the water unconsumable and requiring expensive filtration to clean it. The states facing the worst water scarcity issues are California, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.

In other parts of the world, not everyone has water. The human right to water requires each person have:

  • a clean water source within 1,000 meters.

  • Collection time should not exceed 30 minutes.

  • Water costs should not exceed 3% of household income.

  • Between 50-100 liters of water per person per day to ensure basic needs.

Since 2000 over 100 million people gained accessible clean water. Great improvements have been made, but there is not a fair share of water accessibility. While 884 million people lack access to safe clean water, 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking services. Strong leadership and management are required to make sure everyone can have their rights to clean water.

What would life be like without water?

Without Clean Water

884 million people wake up each day with their first task being to collect water. Almost all morning tasks require water. Most parents are worried about starting work or getting ready for the day, so someone else has to go collect it. The only option is for one of the children to go. Most boys are getting ready for school, so the girls aWhat would life be like without water?re set off to collect water in hopes of finishing in time so they can also attend school.

Depending on where the girl lives from the water collection location, she could be walking up to 30 minutes to 2 hours one way. The walk is completed every day, so the girls know the safest route. The water collected if often brown filled with dirt and algae from animals using the water too. It is the only water source available, so it has to be brought home. A five gallon can is filled and carried home. The weight is 45lbs and making the journey to collect water longer.

Once back home, the girl is exhausted but has just enough time to make a few periods of school on an empty stomach and only a cup of dirty water. She makes it to school but is exhausted. Her capacity to learn is low but learns as much information possible.

Once school is over, she notices a rumbling in her stomach. The dirty water she drank is not sitting well in her empty stomach. She lays down once at home and feels ill. After a light dinner and bath, she feels better but is exhausted knowing she will wake up tomorrow to do it all again.

With Clean Water

Almost all morning tasks require water. The water source is close by so any household member leaves to collect water.

Depending on where they live to the improved water source, they walk between 1 minute to 15 minutes one way. The water is clean so no one can become sick. A five-gallon can is filled and carried home.

Once back home, everyone starts there day with no delay. The parents leave for work while the children head off to school.

After a day of learning and a few meals, she plays with her friends and enjoys the rest of her day.

Chennai: A City With No Water

Chennai is India's sixth largest city with a population of 4.6 million. It is the cultural and economic hub for southern India. Currently, Chennai residents are suffering a water shortage because of a bad monsoon season.

There was little rain during the monsoon season meaning the four reservoirs the city relies on did not fill up and are now running dry. The level of available water has dropped so low that schools and businesses have cut their hours so that employees or students have more time to collect water. The only locations to collect water are from wells dug around the city for groundwater or from water trucks that have been delivering water.

The wells using groundwater are being over drafted to the point that the water coming out is not consumable. Wells are being dug 1,000ft and continuously pumped. The water trucks that are delivering water are price gauging what they have to offer because it can not fit the demand. People are paying 50% of their monthly salary only on water.

Is there any light at the end of the tunnel of Chennai? It is expected to rain again in October and November. Citizens that have the opportunity to leave the city have done so until the water crisis ends. Citizens are pushing for a long term water conservation and development plan since water is a vital limited resource. If not, then it is expected that 40% of India's 1.34 billion citizens will not have water.

The Changes Agirigiroi Will See

Our first team meeting with Agirigiroi was in August of 2018. During that initial visit, they showed us the severity of their water issues. Since then, we have been working closely with them to develop a clean water solution. Each community member has worked closely with us to create the perfect solution for them. Since August, we have continued the project process and are ready to begin the final step.

Agirigiroi's current water situation is dire and in need of intervention. During our August 2018 field assessment trip to Uganda, Agirigiroi was the one highlighted community with the most severe water scenario. This is because there is no clean water source within 4 kms (2.5 miles). The water sources they use go dry for 4 months every year. What they do drink can effortlessly make someone sick. The combination of frequent illness and time spent collecting water is limiting the number of opportunities for community members hindered by dirty water.

Together, we have developed a solution that will fix all of the health and time issues people are currently facing. The first is the development of a readily available clean water source. A borehole was drilled for Agirigiroi finding a very productive water table. Since there is so much water, we know that there is enough for people to continuously use. The well will be solar powered so it can be pumped year round without any issues. Finally, different collection points are going to be created within Agirigiroi so that no one will have more than a .5km walk to have clean water.

To show the work being completed, we hope you enjoy this video.

Using Clean Water to cover the long distances

Clean water is necessary to be able to explore and go on adventures. Ryan is going to begin a 50 mile Spartan weekend. Read below one of his race reports as he runs with the spartan community in a ultra marathon weekend. To learn more about his journey, visit

This was my third consecutive year attending the Winter Sprint at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Central New York. In 2017, the temperatures in the morning were well below zero, and the wind chill was around -14 degrees Fahrenheit.  This year we really lucked out!  The air temperature rose to up around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the winds were calm.  This made for an absolutely beautiful race day.

        The race course was very similar to years passed and began with a 500ft vertical climb straight up one of the biggest ski slopes.  This was to ensure that all racers had burning lungs, and legs right out of the gate. We then looped around and ran straight downhill through much thicker woods on some technical terrain. There we hit our first gauntlet of obstacles including the rings, barbed wire, atlas stones, rope climb, and sandbag carry.

        After our first obstacle gauntlet, the course was very flat which made for some fast-paced running, soon to be slowed down by the gravel bucket carry (~70lbs for males), monkey bars, and 150lb sandbag hoist. I was able to perform very well on all obstacles during this race, only failing my spear throw, which missed the target slightly to the left.

        The last leg of the course turned us back toward the start line and took us up the initial starting slope one more time for another 600ft vertical climb, this time through thick woods. This is where some racers really started to slow down, as the last slope had a seriously steep incline. The trail looped back around which led to a slippery downhill plunge toward the finish line. I was able to complete the 4-mile course in one hour and twenty minutes, placing me in the top half of the overall competitive race. I enjoyed the course so much I ran it again! I totaled over 8 miles and 2,500ft vertical gain on the day, enjoying a sunny, warm winter day.