Elon Musk has made a solemn pledge on Twitter to do everything within his ample means to fix water contamination issues in any household in Flint, Michigan, that still needs it.
“Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding,” he said.
He was, actually, responding to a tweet that sounded more like a challenge than a plea for help to find a solution to the years-long water crisis plaguing the residents of Flint, Michigan.
In fact, it was pretty smart of @DylanSheaMusic to coerce the commitment out of the tech billionaire rather than make a case for the city’s beleaguered residents.
Fresh from failing to have a decisive say in the rescue of 12 kids and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand, Musk didn’t think twice before taking the bait dangled at him, as he had a point to prove – an ego thing, probably.
Also, commendably, the tweet’s timing was spot on.
“Hey @elonmusk I heard a bunch of people saying there’s NO WAY you could help get clean water to Flint, Michigan. Said you wouldn’t be capable idk,” wrote @DylanSheaMusic.
Responding to Musk’s tweet, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver requested the Tesla and Space X CEO for a discussion on the city’s “specific needs.”
Mask said he would call on Friday.
Mr. Musk, I am the Mayor of Flint. I would like to have a conversation with you about Flint’s specific needs.
— Karen About Flint (@karenaboutflint) July 11, 2018
Mari Copeny, a leading Flint activist and founder of #DearFlintKids, tweeted in defense of Musk, saying that her team had been working with the man for more than a week “to figure out the best solution to help #Flint with the #FlintwaterCrisis.” She expressed her gratitude for “all he has done so far.”
Hey world. Let’s set the record straight. My team has been working with @elonmusk and his team for over a week to figure out the best solution to help #Flint with the #FlintwaterCrisis
Extremely grateful for him and all he has done so far.
— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) July 12, 2018
There was some flip-flopping in Musk’s follow-up tweets, though, which were, basically, his interpretation of “fund fixing the water.”
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
Musk even suggested a “brainstorming weekend for water filter installation”
Maybe rewarding to organize a barnstorming weekend for water filter installation?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
When CNET’s Sean Hollister asked Musk to “comment on reports that lead levels are generally below federal standard in Flint?” and if he could “confirm this is 100% real,” Musk tweeted:
“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.”
The Flint water crisis began back in 2014 when the city’s water supply source was changed from Lake Huron and Detroit River to Flint River.
Inadequate water treatment resulted in lead-poisoning of the city’s water supply, creating a serious threat to public health.
The improperly treated water caused corrosion of the aging lead pipes it flowed through, reportedly exposing 100,000 residents to the potentially fatal lead-contaminated water.
A federal state of emergency was declared in January 2016 after a couple of scientific studies established the presence of high levels of lead in the city’s water supply.
Initially, a state of emergency was declared by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, soon followed by President Obama’s declaration of a Federal State of Emergency, which has provisions for additional help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
Citizens were warned of the dangers of exposure to the water and were instructed to use nothing but bottled water for their daily drinking, cooking, washing, and bathing needs.
Although the water quality has improved since then, residents have been advised to continue using bottled or filtered water as there are still many remaining lead pipes that need to be replaced – a task that may stretch till 2020.
Musk is not the first known figure to announce some kind of relief for the long-suffering residents of Flint.
Last year, 31-year-old Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars announced – midway through his sold-out concert at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan – that he would donate a whopping $ 1 million from the proceeds of his show in aid of the Flint water crisis victims.
“I’m very thankful to the Michigan audience for joining me in supporting this cause,” Bruno said at the time.
“Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it’s important that we don’t forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster,” Bruno said.
“As people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again,” added the “Too Good to Say Goodbye” singer.
The donation was intended for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, which has been involved addressing a host of issues affecting the area, ever since lead-poisoning in the city’s water supply led to more than a dozen deaths.
The deaths were caused by Legionnaire’s Disease which in turn was caused by exposure to the contaminated water – so it is believed.
A number of government employees have, since, been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
“With a grateful heart, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint is honored to accept this inspiring donation,” the Foundation’s President and CEO Isaiah M. Oliver said in a statement.
“We know Bruno Mars’ $1 million gift will be transformative to the children and families of Flint. He understands the issues faced by Flint citizens, and we are touched by his concern and generosity,” he added.
It would, probably, have been better if Musk adopted the Bruno approach and offered a few million dollars to the right organization, rather than talking about spending a weekend fixing filters and educating the people, all of which the people of Flint have had enough of.
What the city needs is a complete overhaul of the city’s entire network of aging and lead-contaminated water pipes, which shouldn’t be a problem if the right amount of funds is in the right hands.
Think about it, Mr. Musk!