It’s been five years since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, came to light, and yet the city is still in need of clean water.
The crisis started when former governor Rick Snyder and his administration changed the water supply to the city from Lake Huron and the Detroit River, to the cheaper Flint River. Insufficient water treatment and old lead pipes meant residents were exposed to lead in their drinking water.
A federal state of emergency was declared in January 2016, after people were reported to be suffering and dying from Legionnaires’ disease, with city residents being instructed to use bottled or filtered water.
Residents have been relying on bottled water, however donations are on the decline, and though the lead pipes are slowly being replaced throughout the city, many people are still in need of clean water.
In order to help alleviate the water crisis, Jaden Smith’s company – Just Goods – has teamed up with First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church and non-profit organisation The Last Kilometer, to bring a mobile water filtration system to Flint, which they’ve called The Water Box.
One of the many benefits of the Water Box is that it’s portable 🙌🏾 This Portable filtration system can be hooked up to any water outlet to produce clean water 🙌🏾 #StillServing #FirstTrinityProud #FlintLivesStillMatter
Posted by First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on Friday, 1 March 2019
The church has so far donated more than five million bottles of water to city. The team at Just Goods has worked with the church and The Last Kilometer to design and engineer The Water Box, which will reduce lead and other contaminates found in the water thanks to a number of specially designed filters inside the system, as well as a UV treatment.
The water company was founded in 2015 by Jaden and his dad, Will Smith. It uses eco-friendly packaging, made from renewable resources, for all its products, while the company also aims to educate young people about the importance of recycling via their schools initiatives.
Speaking about Flint and the water crisis, Jaden told ABC12:
It was a community that people were talking about and donating and everybody was paying attention and then slowly that started to dwindle and dwindle away, but the problem didn’t go away.
We want to continue to service Flint and to put more water boxes here and just to talk to the community and say, ‘Hey, how can we help? What’s next? What can we do to make life easier?’
The Water Box can deliver eight to 10 gallons of water per minute, and can guarantee the cleanliness of the water thanks to rigorous testing in a lab not affiliated with the city. They also post all their results on their website for total transparency.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.