Saturday, January 23, 2016

Drip, drip, drip...

The contaminated water in Flint, Michigan is now making national news. There are lots of news sources to fill in the details of that nightmare and lots of opinion about how it wouldn't have happened in a rich white city.

Though as for that last bit...

Oliver Milman, writing for The Guardian, reports:
Water authorities across the US are systematically distorting water tests to downplay the amount of lead in samples, risking a dangerous spread of the toxic water crisis that has gripped Flint, documents seen by the Guardian show.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that water boards in cities including Detroit and Philadelphia, as well as the state of Rhode Island, have distorted tests by using methods deemed misleading by the Environment Protection Agency.
That bit about Detroit definitely caught my attention. The Detroit water system, now the Great Lakes Water Authority supplies water to all of the Detroit Metro Area – and now including Flint again. Does that bit about Detroit mean the city, or the entire Detroit area water system?

Is my water also contaminated?

My water has always been a bit off. It can turn the bowl of a toilet orange (not too bad when I had a yellow toilet) and has a slightly musty taste. About 20 years ago the city partnered with a company to test the water of individual homes. I put out a sample of water to be tested, then found out they wouldn't give me the results unless they could also give me a sales pitch for their filtering products. I decided their results must be unreliable and said no.

Perhaps 3 years ago I had enough of the musty taste and bought a pitcher with a water filter. I still get water straight from the tap when I brush teeth (the pitcher is in the kitchen), though it looks like that needs to change. But does the filter trap lead or enough other harmful stuff? My nutritionist sells a super-duper model (with matching price) but it is big and I don't have space in my kitchen. She has also suggested I buy a filter for the shower. It might be time to do that.

The Guardian saw data gathered by Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou of Virginia Tech. The article also included this:
Lambrinidou warned that the issue of misleading test results was widespread. “There is no way that Flint is a one-off,” she said.“There are many ways to game the system. In Flint, they went to test neighbourhoods where they knew didn’t have a problem. You can also flush the water to get rid of the lead. If you flush it before sampling, the problem will go away.

“The EPA has completely turned its gaze away from this. There is no robust oversight here, the only oversight is from the people getting hurt. Families who get hurt, such as in Flint, are the overseers. It’s an horrendous situation. The system is absolutely failing.”
Do we thank years of the GOP trying to squeeze the gov't by not budgeting enough money? Is the EPA scared because of GOP rants on excessive regulations and has long been targeting the agency? Is this what Libertarians mean when they promote small gov't so it doesn't intrude on our freedom? Are we all supposed to have our own water purification system, responsible for the safety of our own water?

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