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jaden smith is bringing clean water to flint

March 4, 2019
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Jaden Smith is the latest activist putting his money where his good will is, in an effort to give the residents of Flint, Michigan drinking water. JUST Water, a company Smith has co-founded with clean-water activist Drew Fitzgerald, is partnering with a Flint church to develop and deploy a newly designed water-filtering system that can be used locally rather than centrally.

It’s desperately needed. Though recent tests claim that levels of lead in the water consumed by Flint residents are at their lowest since the water emergency began in 2014, the negligence surrounding the poisoning of this community continues, with the corroding pipes scientists claim contributed to the emergency not scheduled to be fully replaced until the end of 2019. The need to change the city’s water delivery and filtration infrastructure is as urgent as ever, and sadly remains a development being left to the private sector. Especially after the state’s bottled water program was discontinued by Michigan’s former Republican governor (they were reinstated in January), and private donations of water have slowed.

Enter Smith and his eco-friendly company JUST Water. Partnering with a few activist groups (including Black Millennials 4 Flint) and the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, which has distributed over 5 million bottles of water to local residents since the onset of the crisis, JUST Water is seeking to utilize “The Water Box,” a mobile water treatment system that, according to a press release, filters out lead and additional water contaminants.

“This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally,” Smith said in a statement. “Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and design(ing) something to help them has been a journey I will never forget. We are planning to deploy more water boxes in Flint and other communities facing similar challenges.”

According to a report on WXYZ-Detroit, The Water Box can produce up to 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute. The water’s toxic levels are tested each day with use, as well as every few weeks by an independent and certified laboratory. Flint residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with the clean water at the church, where the Water Box filtration device will be set up.

How ludicrous is it that in America in 2019, five years after the government has criminally neglected a community of 100,000 people, Flint’s only trusted source for drinking water remains a trip to the local church? Or that the people working hardest on residents’ behalf are activists and celebrities, rather than civic officials? If there is any bright spot to this story, it is the fact people like Jaden Smith, and a community of environmentalists and green engineers are hard at work to minimize current and future damage.