What to Learn From The Flint Water Crisis
We’re right on the heels of felony and misdemeanor charges for three individuals connected with the Flint Water Crisis, per The New York Times. If you’re not familiar with this story, here’s a brief summary: Local government and emergency managers in Flint, Michigan decided they could save money on water by changing their water source from the City of Detroit to utilizing water straight from the Flint River. The plan was to switch over to a new provider in the long run, using the Flint River temporarily. They didn’t anticipate the corrosiveness of the river water and later neglected to treat the water with the proper chemicals that would aid in preventing corrosion of the lead piping system. As of October 2015, the water source has been switched back to the original source, but the corrosive damage has been done. It ‘estimated that replacing the more than 15,000 lead service lines in Flint would take $60 million and up to 15 years.
In March 2016, USA Today reported on lead discoveries in hundreds of schools and daycares across the country. The EPA estimates that about 90,000 public schools and half a million child care facilities aren’t regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act because they depend on water sources – such as municipal utilities – expected to test their own water.
Surprisingly, a large portion of the U.S. water infrastructure is quickly aging, and reaching its useful purpose. Therefore, adequate funding needs to be attributed on an ongoing basis to replace the corroding system. As long as communities continue to test and treat water appropriately, the danger isn’t immediate. Updates and any major changes must be planned for with due diligence and patience. The issue in Flint – and expanding concern around the US – has reminded us the importance of transparency and communication within our communities.
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