Getty ImagesDonald Kravitz
Last night at the Miss America pageant—an event with a lot of background drama as it continues to refigure itself post-#MeToo—this year’s Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma, used her seconds-long introduction of herself to make a statement on the status of the Flint water crisis. “From the state with 84 percent of the United States’ fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma,” she said.
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Flint’s water crisis has been ongoing since 2014, when drinking water in the city’s pipes became contaminated with lead and other toxins because of improper water treatment. As a result, the nearly 100,000 residents of the city have been told to use only bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
In January 2017, EPA officials announced that lead and copper levels there had finally fallen below federal limits, but the water still wasn’t safe to drink; residents still needed to drink from bottles or filters for another year or so. The BBC reports that it may not be until 2020 that residents can drink safely from their taps again, as the contaminated pipes aren’t expected to be fully replaced until then.
Sioma’s statement was one of the most covered moments of the pageant, although Sioma herself did not win or make the final 15. Miss New York,.
Sioma is from Grass Lake, Michigan and a graduate of the University of Michigan. A survivor of sexual assault, she planned to dedicate her Miss America social impact initiative to helping support other survivors, per her bio page. Sioma spoke out about her own assault on her Instagram this April: