School buildings in Flint, MI will soon get ultraviolet water filtration systems, thanks to a $480,350 donation by Elon Musk through the Musk Foundation, a private foundation founded by Elon and Kimbal Musk back in 2002. The installation of the water filtration systems is expected to be completed by January 2019.
Elon Musk’s donation to Flint’s schools was announced by the district on Friday. In a statement to MLive News, Derrick Lopez, the Superintendent of Flint Community Schools, noted that the new water filtration systems would play a notable part in helping students regain access to safe, clean water. Lopez further stated that Musk’s donation is enough to pay for the filtration systems in all 12 school buildings in the city, as well as the district’s administration building.
“We are deeply grateful for the generosity and the budding partnership between Flint Community Schools, the Musk Foundation and Elon Musk. 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,” Lopez said.
The UV water purification method within the filtration systems will disinfect lead and bacteria coming from water pipes, allowing students in Flint to safely drink from school water fountains once more. Flint school board president Diana Wright thanked the Musk Foundation for its donation, stating that it ensures that “students in Flint Community Schools have access to safe drinking water at the source — in drinking fountains — by way of the same type of water filtration system used by hospitals and colleges in Flint.”
Elon Musk’s donation to Flint was acknowledged on Twitter by the official Flint Schools account, as well as young activist Mari Copeny, better known as “Little Miss Flint.” Musk, for his part, noted that he hopes he could do more to help in the future.
Elon Musk’s initiatives in Flint came to light back in July when he pledged on Twitter that he would be helping the residents of the city get access to clean water. Since his announcements then, as well as his suggestion of a “barnstorming weekend” that would involve the installation of water filters in the homes of Flint’s residents, Musk has remained quiet about his initiatives to aid the city. If the recent announcement from Flint’s school district is any indication, though, it appears that Elon Musk continues to help the city, albeit in a more discreet manner.
Flint’s water crisis began in April 2014, when the city’s drinking water source was shifted from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the much cheaper Flint River. Due to insufficient water treatment, lead from the lead pipes used in the new system leached into the residents’ drinking water. The lead-contaminated water resulted in several grave problems for Flint. An estimated 6,000-12,000 children from the city have been exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead, and the percentage of children with elevated blood-lead levels is estimated to have risen from about 2.5% in 2013 to as much as 5% in 2015. Ten fatalities were also caused by an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, which is believed to be linked to the city’s contaminated water supply.