Bob Crossen is associate editor for WQP. Crossen can be reached at [email protected] or 847.954.7980.
It has been nearly one year since the city of Flint, Mich., retained Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech to monitor its water after his months-long study and report explaining the extent of water contamination from the Detroit River.
Now, the city’s water is testing below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule when compared to cities of similar sizes with similar infrastructure. That was based on tests of tier 1 sites—residences with confirmed lead or copper services lines—in the last six months (July through December) and indicated contamination of 12 ppb, which is below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threshold of 15 ppb.
While that status is progress for the city, there is still more that needs to be done, which was noted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in his statement about the tests. Filters are still being issued to those that need them and finding funding to replace lead service line throughout the community will continue to present a challenge.
Perhaps most difficult to overcome is the loss of trust in the Flint, Michigan, public officials and the water system. That will take years to repair, if it ever will be. And as water credits used to pay for water residents could not use come to an end in February, residents will have to pay for water they likely are still concerned about drinking, despite tests showing it meets standards. In fact, 1,700 residents of Flint have sued the EPA for mismanagement of the water crisis and are seeking $722 million in damages. This is only the beginning of a long and testy history between residents and officials.
While residents may never trust their public officials again, education on combatting water contamination, which has been ongoing since last year, will be imperative in rebuilding trust in the city’s water. Exactly who the public can trust to relay that information, however, will be difficult to determine.
What kinds of programs and campaigns would best suit this situation? Who can the public look to as a trusted source for that information? Let us know in the comments below or send us an email to [email protected].