This particular issue has been running through my veins for a good while now – No pun intended.
The purpose of this post is to review the events of what’s happened with the water in Flint, Michigan. In addition, I want to highlight other cities that have or have had their own water crises.
In my humble opinion, this is simply unacceptable. Everyone needs water to survive!
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a person can live about a month without food. However, one can only survive about a week without water.
Lack of clean, safe water leads to further illness and disease, and ultimately, death.
One of the most recently updated articles about the crisis in Flint comes from CNN:
- Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts (Last Updated February 22, 2017)
In a nutshell, the city officially switched water sources in 2014. At that time, Flint’s water supply fund was $9 million in the hole. Flint has gotten its water from Lake Huron since 1967. But, nearly three years ago, the source was switched to the Flint River while a new pipeline was under construction.
The Flint River was not being treated with an anti-corrosive agent, which violates federal law. Because this agent was not added, when the supply was switched over, lead from old pipes started to contaminate the water.
Lead exposure is known to cause adverse health effects, particularly in children and pregnant women. There are medicines that reduce the amount of lead in the blood, but further treatments have not been developed.
Since then, it’s been disaster after disaster. Finger-pointing back and forth, multiple lawsuits, and tons of bureaucratic red tape. All the while, the residents have been holding the bag – All they want is to be able to use their tap water again.
Among other things, tests have come back positive for horrifying things over the last few years, such as Legionnaire’s disease, total coliform bacteria, disinfectant byproducts, and bacteria buildup. Even Flint’s General Motors plant stopped using the city water because high levels of chlorine were corroding engine parts.
Flint has been in the spotlight for another reason – About 40 percent of its residents are African-American. There have been multiple claims / allegations that race has been a factor in the crisis, as well.
Here’s some more information. The timelines were immensely eye-opening.
- Disaster Day by Day: A detailed Flint crisis timeline (2004-2014)
- Flint crisis timeline: Part 2 (January 2015 – June 2015)
- Flint crisis timeline, Part 3 [July 2015 – present (Last updated in March 2016)]
- The Flint Water Crisis: Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint
- Lead-Laced Water In Flint: A Step-By-Step Look At The Makings Of A Crisis
Other Cities in the U.S.
After the Flint crisis broke loose, other cities in the U.S. started reporting elevated levels of lead in their water supplies.
A simple Google search of “water crisis in America” immediately hits upon an article, dated March 2016, from CNBC, titled, “America’s water crisis goes beyond Flint, Michigan.”
Another startling article, titled, “America Is Suffering From A Very Real Water Crisis That Few Are Acknowledging,” is more recent. This was published just a few months ago, in January. It cites several sources, but most striking is one report from Reuters that states shocking statistics. There are 3,000 localities in the U.S. alone that have lead levels at least double the amount in Flint.
That’s just insane.
Like Flint, many of these communities have what’s referred to as “legacy lead,” meaning that most are former industrial hubs that have crumbling paint, old plumbing, and industrial waste.
However, many of these localities have not been in the national spotlight. Most of these areas have had to fight the poison on their own.
With that said, there are multiple problems here. There is data showing contamination, but funding has not been increased or allocated to fix the plumbing, pipes, or water supplies. While recent focus has been on lead, there are water supplies all over this country that are tainted with numerous hazardous metals and elements (mercury, arsenic, chlorine, etc.), bacteria, and other things that are far from safe.
Around the World
It’s no secret that other cities and countries on our planet don’t have regular access to clean, safe drinking water.
A quick Google search lists numbers of at least 1.1 billion people on our planet that have scarce water.
Here’s several links that illustrate the worldwide water shortage:
- Global Water Shortage: Water Scarcity & The Importance of Water – The Water Project
- Water Scarcity – Threats – World Wildlife Fund
- World Water Council – Water Crisis
- World’s 36 Most Water-Stressed Countries
- Freshwater Crisis – National Geographic
What Can We Do?
At this point, you may be feeling helpless, or confused, or sad. So, what can we do?
- There are multiple charities that are dedicated to providing safe, clean water to water-scarce areas.
- Educating others about these issues.
- Spreading awareness.
- Harvesting rainwater.
- Researching and advocating new technologies.
- Decreasing the effects of climate change.
- Pursuing cleaner means of energy.
- Consuming products that use less water.
Source: Conserve Energy Future
We may not be able to change the world right now, but educating others goes a long way!
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂