Elon Musk-funded drinking fountains for Flint schools finally deployed

For the first time since 2016, students in Flint, Michigan, will drink clean water from water fountains installed in their schools. This was made possible through the efforts of The Musk Foundation, a private foundation founded by Elon and Kimbal Musk in 2002, which donated $480,350 to Flint back in October 2018. 

A total of 78 hydration systems were installed across 13 buildings that are currently being utilized by Flint schools. Fifteen of these stations would be spread out throughout the Flint Southwestern Classical Academy, which houses students from Grades 8-12, as per an MLive report. During a ceremony on Tuesday, February 8, Superintendent Kevelin Jones stated that the new hydration systems would go a long way into helping Flint students.

“This means a lot. Water should not be something that we have to pay for — water is a necessity of life. It should not be something we have to fight for,” Jones said. Jones, together with Board of Education President Danielle Green, Principal Chris Ochodnicky, and Board Secretary Adrian Walker, commemorated the event by taking their first drinks out of the Musk Foundation-funded hydration stations on Tuesday morning. 

Prior to the use of the new hydration systems, the district had been supplying bottled water to each of Flint’s school buildings. This was a costly and inefficient solution, though it was one that was needed considering that the city’s water crisis was yet to be concluded. As of June 2021, Flint’s website noted that 10,000 pipes have already been replaced in the city’s water system, but residents are still skeptical if the water in the city’s lines is already safe to drink. 

Laura Sullivan, a professor of mechanical engineering who has been looking to get hydration systems installed in Flint schools for years, noted that the systems provided by the Musk Foundation had been tested by both Kettering researchers and Arc Environmental, an environmental consultant for Flint schools. This ensures that the systems installed using the funds from the Tesla CEO are really up to par and safe to use by Flint’s students. 

The long deployment period of the water filtration systems aside, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quite optimistic about the hydration systems that would be installed in Flint. When he was thanked by Flint Schools and activist Mari Copeny, better known as “Little Miss Flint,” back in October 2018, Musk noted that he hopes to help more in the future. Musk eventually did help a bit more by donating another $423,000 to purchase laptops for middle school students in the city.

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