Jaden Smith is making sure residents of Flint get clean drinking water
It’s now been five years since the city of Flint Michigan rerouted its water supply, drawing drinking water from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron. The move saved money, but the water from the Flint River was far more corrosive and broke down the city’s outdated pipes, allowing lead to leech into the water supply. Years later, those pipes have yet to be replaced, and free drinking water is no longer being provided to Flint’s residents. Enter Jaden Smith.
Smith has been watching this go down, and as someone with both a lot of money and a bottled water company called JUST Water, he’s uniquely positioned to lend his expertise in the crisis.
Smith’s company is teaming up with the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church and other organizations on the ground in Flint, including The Last Kilometer, Rethink H2O, Black Millennials for Flint, and 501CTHREE, to help provide a more consistent supply of potable drinking water for people living in Flint. They’re providing the church with what they call a “Water Box,” a mobile filtration system that they say will remove lead from the local water and make it drinkable.
The church has been providing bottled water to residents for years, but lately, donations have started to slow. Ultimately, making the local tap water safe to consume is a more sustainable longterm solution for Flint. Recent tests have shown the local water supply has lead levels back within acceptable levels (12 parts per billion, while federal regulations allow for up to 15 parts per billion), but scientists argue that no levels of lead in water are safe for children to consume.
Jaden Smith’s “Water Box” will be stationed at the church and allow residents to bring their own containers to be filled from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays. In addition, Smith’s mom, Jada Pinkett-Smith, announced she’ll be donating money toward finding an even better longterm solution to ensure everyone in Flint has access to clean water.
Meanwhile, the city is still working on finding and replacing the old lead water pipes that started the water crisis. So far, the city has identified more than 18,000 lead pipes that need to be replaced. As of December, around 8,000 of them had been replaced. The city says it’s ahead of schedule, but at the current replacement rate, Flint won’t be free of lead water pipes for several more years. And as long as those lead pipes are in the ground, residents have been pretty adamant that they won’t trust that water, no matter what tests say about the current lead levels.
It’s disheartening that government officials are continuing to fail the residents of Flint, who should absolutely already have clean, safe water provided to them. It’s also mind-boggling that it’s up to a private citizen to step up and offer a solution.
But if the government isn’t going to provide lead-free water until Flint’s pipes are replaced, at least someone will.