Tainted Water

Where are some places with low water quality and what are some solutions?

Have you ever thought about water on a deeper level? Where it comes from, what it been through and who has access to it? Not really, right? We barely think twice when we take a sip of water from our bottles. However, water is very important to us and yet there are people out there who lack access to clean water. It may be the government’s fault that the city lack clean water or maybe because of poverty where they can’t afford clean water. An example of poor water quality in the U.S. would be Flint Michigan. They changed the water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River due to new pipelines being built to Lake Huron and also to save money. After the switch to Flint River, residents complained about water color, taste and odor of the water. “Bacteria, including Escherichia coli, were detected in the distribution system, resulting in Safe Drinking Water Act violations. Additional disinfection to control bacteria spurred formation of disinfection byproducts including total trihalomethanes, resulting in Safe Drinking Water Act violations for trihalomethane levels”(Hanna-Attisha). In addition the water from the Flint river has high amounts of chloride and no corrosion inhibitor which lead to lead leaching into the water supply. Flint’s aging pipelines has a high amount of lead. Lead is a neurotoxin and if children gets lead poisoning, it affects their intelligence and behavior. This affects mostly minority and low income children and pregnant women. “Children can absorb 40% to 50% of an oral dose of water-soluble lead compared with 3% to 10% for adults. In a dose–response relationship for children aged 1 to 5 years, for every 1-ppb increase in water lead, blood lead increases 35%. The greatest risk of lead in water may be to infants on reconstituted formula”(Hanna-Attisha). To prevent lead poisoning, there needs to be prevention methods. So how do we stop lead from leaching into the water? Simple. The government would need to add anti-corrosives into the water. In Flint, Michigan, 41.1% of the people live below the poverty line and the median household income is only $24,862. The city’s population is 56.6% African American. If Flint have mostly white and rich people, do you think they would still have this problem with water? Probably not. White middle class people can have their voices heard while low-income African Americans are silenced. Even though they voiced their concern for months, nothing is changed about the water. “For civil rights advocates, the health crisis in Flint smacks of what has become known as environmental racism. Coined in the 1980s, the term refers to the disproportionate exposure of blacks to polluted air, water and soil. It is considered the result of poverty and segregation that has relegated many blacks and other racial minorities to some of the most industrialized or dilapidated environments.” (Eligon) Environmental racism is where a certain race is unproportionally exposed to environmental issues and degradation. They experience more of the negative effects of environmental problems such as fracking, water pollution, air pollution and much more. Similarly, on the other side of the world, in Africa, water quality is also very poor and contain water-born diseases. “The impact of waterborne disease in South Africa is significant. An estimated 43,000 deaths per annum, including 20% of deaths in the 1–5 years age group, are directly attributable to diarrhoeal diseases. Drinking water quality provision in many rural areas is substandard.” (Mackintosh) This shows how people in developing countries are also dealing with this problem of water accessibility and quality. There are diseases in their water that can easily be treated however, these people don’t have the resources and money to treat their water. Their government is also at fault when they are unable to provide clean drinking water to the people. In the Eastern Cape area of Africa, there was high poverty rates. Also the microbiological water quality is very poor. They have to resort to poor alternative ways of water such as pond water. To deal with the problem of low quality water quality around the world, we need to protest and let politicians know our concerns. Short term relief for bad water quality includes filters and bottled water however we need more long term solutions such as joining up with other cities that also have the same problem and use social media to gain attention and support for their protest. They should write letters to the government that talks about their low water quality and also write petitions. Another solution would be to switch to a private water source as an alternative. Also another solution would be to add anti-corrosives into the water and run the water through better treatment techniques that gets rid of the bad stuff in the water. The last solution for Flint would be to switch back to the old water source and find more ways to pay for the water.