After news of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan broke in 2014, many public figures raised their voices in support of the neglected city. Among the loudest voices was real-life science fiction mastermind Elon Musk, who earlier this year tweeted a commitment to “fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels,” adding “no kidding” for good measure. This week, Musk and his Musk Foundation made good on that promise by donating $480,350 to purchase and install new ultraviolet (UV) water filtration systems for water fountains throughout all of Flint’s schools.
The new UV filters will be installed in each of the 12 Flint Community Schools between now and the end of January 2019, allowing students to drink water from school water fountains without any fear of bacteria or, more importantly, lead contamination.
The city of Flint issued a press statement this week thanking Musk for living up to his pledge to improve the safety and peace of mind of Flint students and parents. “We are deeply grateful for the generosity and the budding partnership between Flint Community Schools, the Musk Foundation and Elon Musk,” writes Derrick Lopez, Flint Community Schools Superintendent. “The new water filtration systems will be instrumental in helping our students return to the normalcy of what should be a fundamental right: having access to safe, clean water from water fountains in their school.”
In response to Flint’s public thanks, Musk tweeted out a short reply stating simply “You’re most welcome. Hope to do more to help in the future.”
While the UV filters Musk’s donation will provide will certainly give peace of mind to Flint students and parents, most news outlets are ignoring the fact that Flint’s water has actually been testing below the EPA’s action levels for lead and copper for over two years now, making it perfectly safe to drink. Is this recent donation merely a way of boosting Musk’s public image in light of his recent troubles with the SEC?