In many countries, water is not a given. It is a daily concern. How much can I use today, will it be clean, will there be any at all? In this wonderful United States of ours, these worries seldom cross our minds. We turn on the tap, fill up our glass and expect to drink clean, freshwater without giving it a second thought. That is the incredible gift we have come to expect from our local municipalities. But, have they mislead us? Have they bitten off more than they can chew?
Two huge water catastrophes have made breaking news in the past few weeks and they happen to be in our neck of the woods. Flint, MI has been battling elevated lead levels for months after authorities made the decision to switch the source of their water supply. Sebring, Ohio is contending with not only lead but copper as well. With the recent emergence of troubled water systems in the news have we reached a point where we need to begin asking questions and not take for granted that big brother is watching out for our safety?
This is not to say that anyone has done anything wrong (although officials in both Sebring, OH and Flint, MI are potentially facing charges). Through an examination of both of these cases, it has taken investigators to one potential culprit.
Over time the pipes and other pathways that water takes to reach our homes corrode and leach contaminants into the water. It is the initial belief according to reports that this could be the possible cause of both of these instances of elevated lead and copper. Residents, county workers and others involved know that upgrades are in order, however, to do so in Flint alone would cost 1.5 billion dollars! Cities like Flint that are declining in population due to changes in the industry simply don’t have the money to pay for such an astronomical project.
What do we as residents of these (or similar) cities do in the meantime?
Flint and Sebring are faced with one and only one choice…bottled or filtered water. The people of these areas are none too thrilled with the additional cost but, in the long run, isn’t it worth a few extra bucks to save your health along with that of your children? In addition, how incredibly lucky are we that we live in a country where this is a feasible alternative? Yes, we are tax paying Americans, we should be granted certain rights and safe water ranks at the top. However, I for one feel truly blessed to have an alternate source that I can trust and is abundantly available.
But, why wait? Both of these crises were reported to those concerned far too late. In fact, in Flint, nothing was ever said until their children started to experience elevated lead levels. Residents complained about foul tastes and odors as well as odd coloring. Repeatedly they were told the water was safe to drink. Unfortunately, they are nothing more than a number or a statistic to a city. Do you think one resident could walk into the water department, ask questions and meet those in charge? Doubtful. It is similar to a corporation…you are lost in the herd.
There are alternatives.
Bottled or filtered water can not satisfy all of your water needs. But, it is a start. It is something we are so incredibly lucky to have in situations like these and more importantly maybe a way to avoid being affected by situations like these. Let’s learn from the experiences of these other cities and plan ahead. Rally officials to start looking at our municipal water system before it is too late. Support local business to keep money flowing through this great town of ours. Consider starting a relationship with bottled water now so it is always there when we need it.
More importantly, let’s send Flint and Sebring some love and prayers to get through this horrible ordeal quickly and safely.