Engineering and the Flint Water Crisis: Ethical and Technical Shortcomings
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Lead poisoning is a devastating health problem that can cause great damage to a community, with the responsibility of protecting communities from lead poisoning often falling to the engineers responsible for designing their water treatment system. In Flint, Michigan, the engineers involved with the design of the system failed to meet the technical demands of designing a water distribution system when they neglected to include corrosion control. In addition to the failure of engineers to properly design the system, the engineers involved behaved in an unethical way that worsened the crisis. The engineers failed to protect the citizens of Flint by failing to meet the technical needs of the water treatment process and failing to live up to the ethical standards expected of them, which all engineers should look at in order to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. I will take a closer look at the relevant research regarding the failures in the engineering design process of Flint, and compare the behavior of the engineering firms involved to what is described in the National Society of Professional Engineer’s code of ethics to illustrate the role that engineers played in the Flint water crisis and the importance of stopping similar mistakes from happening in the future.