Wasted Water and Whose Responsible

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The recent failures of local government officials and the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce safe drinking water in Flint, Michigan have raised concerns over our public water quality and the condition of its delivery infrastructure.

States, territories and authorized tribes establish the water quality standards for their waterways to protect human health and aquatic life.

The  EPA, then, evaluates the local authority’s standards for the desired condition of a waterbody and mandate the level of protection for those waters into the future.  They enforce those mandates as law under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

This law is the basis for controlling pollution entering the waters of the United States from a variety of sources (e.g., industrial facilities, agriculture, wastewater treatment plants, runoff, flooding, storm sewers, etc.) and for monitoring officials who have responsibility for keeping your water clean.

The EPA lists all testable water contaminants on their site, the safe amount of exposure (action level), the potential health affects from long term exposure, common sources of drinking water contamination and the safe exposure goal for public health. http://www.epa.gov/dwsixyearreview and click on Contaminants currently regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act

In Flint, Michigan the contaminant that went unregulated was lead. The EPA identifies lead as an inorganic chemical /  action level 0.0015(15 micrograms per liter) / delays in mental and physical development in infants and children, behavior problems, kidney damage and high blood pressure / corrosion of household plumbing fixtures and errosion of natural deposits / public exposure goal is zero.

You can reduce the amount of lead in your water:

  • Run the tap until water is cold to the touch before using it for drinking or imagescooking. This is especially important after the water has been standing in the pipes overnight or over many hours. (save the flushed water for house plants, washing dishes or general household cleaning)
  • Use only cold tap water for cooking, drinking or making a baby’s formula. Hot water is more likely to leach lead from pipes and solder.
  • Check household plumbing for lead-based pipes or solder.
  • Use only lead-free materials in all plumbing repairs or new faucets and pipes. The use of lead solder in plumbing was banned in most states in the 1980s.  Ask the plumber to show you the label from any solder packaging being used. It should state that the solder is lead-free.
  • Your local Department of Health can help you contact water testing facilities and help you if you have concerns.
  • Hold your local officials accountable.
  • You can get information about your local waterways testing from the EPA http://watersgeo.epa.gov/mywaterway/mywaterway.html
  • Safe drinking water should come from the tap and not a plastic bottle.

Until next week,enviro_drinking-water_minisite_banner

Garbage Girl

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