When we think of the problem of lead in drinking water, the city of Flint, Michigan immediately comes to mind.
It’s true that Flint definitely has issues with its drinking water. It’s also true that Flint’s problems brought this issue to light on a national level. But it is also true that Flint’s problem with lead in its water is only the tip of the iceberg of a problem that effects thousands of our communities.
That’s right. The truth is that over 70 municipal water systems, in Michigan alone, have higher lead levels in their water than Flint does!
That’s right. And further, the truth is that more than 5,300 water systems across America are in violation of the EPA’s lead and copper rule, which is a federal regulation in place to safeguard America’s drinking water from its aging infrastructure.
The highest lead levels in the water, recorded in Flint, was 13,000 parts per billion (ppb) in 2015. This is more than 866 times the federal guideline of 15 ppb – the upper allowable level, above which immediate remediation is required. Uh, yeah, I’d say 866 times the allowable limit is cause for concern. The term “immediate remediation” obviously doesn’t mean what you’d think it means either, since Flint’s issue has been going on for over four years now, and the problem still isn’t close to being totally resolved.
As of today, 15 Michigan officials have been indicted over the scandal. I’m sure the population of Flint (about 100,000), including the 12,000+ children, who continue to be exposed to excessive lead levels in their water on a daily basis, were thrilled about that. What they really need is government to quit dragging its feet and get the problem fixed.
Lead causes irreversible damage to developing young brains. It is especially harmful to children 5 or younger. Symptoms include developmental delays, dyslexia and behavioral problems. When cells in the brain absorb lead, it tends to affect the frontal cortex, the area responsible for abstract thought, planning, and attention, and the hippocampus, essential to learning and memory, resulting in life-long learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and lower IQs.
This has been going on for decades all over the country. Humans have long known that lead can cause detrimental health effects. Some even claim it contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. Is it starting to contribute to the US taking a fall now? I mean how many idiots can our society absorb before they start to effect things on multiple levels.
In January of 2016, President Obama declined a request from Michigan’s republican governor (I’m sure that fact that he was a republican governor had nothing to do with the denial of his request) to declare a disaster in Flint. Instead, he authorizes $5 million in aid (it was estimated that the city would need at least $55 million to fix the problem).
A few month later, in May of 2016, President Obama visited Flint to hear first-hand how residents have endured the city’s water crisis and to highlight the federal assistance that was made to state and local agencies. Again, I’m sure the population of Flint, along with the 12,000+ children, who continue to be exposed to excessive lead levels in their water on a daily basis, were excited about that.
It was typical. A lot of talk, a lot of compassion, but no action.
Ok, well, let’s get back to the other pressing questions at hand:
What about your water?
What about my water?
What about just about everyone else’s water?
According to an article by Sara Ganim of CNN:
“More than 5,000 water systems (across the country) are in violation of the law. Moreover, the federal agency in charge of making sure those systems are safe not only knows the issues exist, but it’s done very little to stop them.”
“’Imagine a cop sitting, watching people run stop signs, and speed at 90 miles per hour in small communities and still doing absolutely nothing about it. Knowing the people who are violating the law, and doing nothing. That’s unfortunately what we have now,’ said Erik Olson, health program director at Natural Resources Defense Council, which analyzed the EPA’s data for its report.”
“In this case, the ‘cop’ is a combination of the states and the EPA. States are the first line of enforcement, but when they fail, as they did recently in Flint, Michigan, the EPA is supposed to step in. But in many cases, the agency hasn’t.”
“Violations include failure to properly test water for lead, failure to report contamination to residents, and failure to treat water properly to avoid lead contamination.”
“What’s worse, the report reveals that the EPA is also aware that many utilities are “gaming the system,” using flawed or questionable testing methods in order to avoid detecting high levels of lead.”
“That means there could be many more communities violating the laws, exposing residents to dangerous levels of lead. And the public has no idea.”
“Even Flint, a city with the most notorious case of lead in water discovered, is still not even listed as having violated the EPA’s lead and copper rule!!!! Wait…, what?! Can you repeat that? Even Flint, a city with the most notorious case of lead in water discovered, is still not even listed as having violated the EPA’s lead and copper rule!!!!!”
“The EPA says, ‘it’s working on strengthening the lead and copper rule, and ‘focusing on enhanced oversight of the states, including implementation of the existing rule.’”
Oh goodie! I’m sure that will make a real difference!
“But Alan Morrissey, former senior attorney in the EPA’s office of water enforcement, told CNN that addressing the problem could create even more violations for the already-strapped EPA water department. ‘If you fix the problem of gaming in the system, you now have hundreds, and thousands perhaps, of municipalities that have direct violation,’ he said.”
You might need to go back and read that last section again.
Yes, you read correctly. This is an example of government at its worst and its stupidest.
In other words, never mind the fact that we are all being poisoned by lead in our water. Our main concern should be allowing the tests to be manipulated so that it makes it seem like we don’t really have a problem.
What can you say about this level of contempt and carelessness for the American people by bureaucratic “swamp dwellers.”
The definition of a bureaucrat is: someone who is overly concerned with procedure at the expense of efficiency or common sense.
I think that just about sums it up, except you could add “safety” to the list of things they operate at the expense of.
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